Firms should resist the ‘natural tendency’ to hire lawyers only in their own image, the Law Society has said, publishing a guide setting out the business case for diversity. 

Chancery Lane warned that recruiting from the ‘old school-tie network’ or a limited range of universities makes it hard for many talented people to enter or progress in the sector.

It said that while the diversity of the legal profession is increasing every year, with nearly 12% of solicitors coming from an ethnic minority background, that is not reflected at partner level, where they make up only 6%.

The Law Society's guide, Diversity and inclusion in law firms - the business case, is designed to help firms improve procedures.  

Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘There is a natural tendency to recruit in our own image, but this attitude builds barriers to many talented people gaining entry or progressing their careers in the legal sector. In order for a firm to keep up with the competitive market, it needs to demonstrate an inclusive workplace and robust diversity and equality policies.’  

He added: ‘Law firms that have good diversity and inclusion practices will have a competitive advantage in the long-term over those that do not.’

The Society, said Hudson, has a dedicated equality and inclusion team which can assist with questions in this area.

Read the guide.