A 'continued imbalance' of men and women in senior executive roles within the representative and regulatory bodies for the solicitors' profession has been identified as the main reason behind a 9% gender pay gap. However, the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority, which published their combined results yesterday, say this is substantially lower than the current UK median gap of 17.9%.

The Society and the SRA operate independently but are one legal entity, known as the Law Society Group. Their 2018 report shows that the median gap has risen marginally, from 8.7% in 2017 to 9% last year. The median bonus pay gap is 13.9%, compared to 12.8% the year before.

Around six in 10 of staff are women. As well as a gender imbalance in senior executive roles, the Society and SRA say more women take up salary sacrifice arrangements than men, 'creating artificially lower rates of pay'.

A Society spokesperson said: 'There is more work to be done to shift the imbalance of females from the lower quartiles to the upper and top quartiles. The Law Society and SRA have targeted action plans at an organisational level to address this challenge and the group is committed to reducing the gender pay gap.'

The group commissioned an equal pay audit, which concluded that there was no systemic discrimination against women over pay. The group's 'reward strategy' is being reviewed to address any gender bias.

The report, signed by Society chief executive Paul Tennant and SRA chief Paul Philip says: 'We recognise it takes time for the targeted action plans to make an impact on the gender pay results. We will continue to take action to reduce our pay gap and are committed to a fully inclusive workplace.'