The latest judicial appointments data make generally bleak reading for solicitors, who continue to struggle to reach the more senior positions.

Solicitors accounted for 21% of recommendations in legal exercises carried out between April 2017 and March 2018, compared to 59% who are currently barristers, the latest bulletin from the Judicial Appointments Commission shows.

But while solicitors represented 10% of those wanting to become a High Court judge, none were recommended for appointment. Of the 17 recommendations, 13 were barristers and four were salaried judicial office-holders. The commission says solicitor representation among High Court applicants has increased, but there has been no change in recommendations.

In the circuit judge exercise, solicitors represented 13% of applicants and 1% of recommendations. Of the solicitors who applied, 2% were recommended; in comparison, 26% of barristers who applied were recommended.

Solicitors represented 28% of applicants for the recorder exercise but 4% of recommendations. Of the solicitors who applied, 1% were recommended for appointment compared to a rate of 9% for barristers.

Solicitors predictably fared better in the district judge (civil) exercise, where they accounted for 55% of applicants and 47% of recommendations for immediate appointment. They accounted for 52% of those wanting to become a district judge in the magistrates' court and 45% of recommendations.

Solicitors represented, at 62%, a high proportion of applicants wanting to be a first-tier tribunal salaried judge, and 48% of recommendations. 

The commission says care must be taken when interpreting the figures for solicitors. The information collected in a diversity monitoring form during the recruitment process is self-declared and requests the applicant's current legal role. Therefore, the professional backgrounds of applicants who are judicial officer-holders will not be captured. For instance, solicitors account for 12% of those appointed to the High Court this year.

The commission says changes have been made to the form to provide more detail on professional backgrounds, which will be reported next year.

For the first time this year, the JAC statistics also contain information on social mobility. They confirm that lawyers who attended fee-paying schools are greatly overrepresented compared to the general population.

In all exercises in 2017/18, they accounted for 34% of those recommended for judicial appointment. About 7% of the British public is privately educated. Privately educated applicants were also more likely than state school attendees to be recommended.

At High Court judge level, more than half of those recommended for appointment went to a private school, compared to less than a third of district judges.