Women lawyers are paid a third less than men and receive half the amount in bonuses, according to research published today.

A survey from legal recruiters Laurence Simons revealed that the legal profession is more diverse than society as a whole, but gender and pay inequality remain rife.

Overall, 18% of lawyers are from non-white ethnic backgrounds compared with 14% of society as a whole. Nine per cent are Asian, 2% are black and 2% have mixed heritage.

The survey of 988 UK lawyers shows that ethnic diversity is mirrored at partner level with 18% non-white partners. Again 9% of partners are Asian, while only 1% of partners are black.

In terms of sexual orientation, 4% of lawyers, including at partner level, identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual, compared with 1.5% of the population as a whole.

However, the figures for gender diversity are not so good. At associate level 48% are female, but that figure drops to 28% at partner level. The survey also shows that women are paid 68% what their male colleagues receive, and, on average half the amount in bonuses.

Chris Cayley, Emea managing director at Laurence Simons, said: ‘Far from the stuffy image law has traditionally had, it’s actually a very diverse profession.’

But he said: ‘It is a shame to see that gender inequality remains the trend at partner level, as well as the pay differential. It seems not all firms are making the most of their people and are effectively narrowing their talent pool by not maximising career opportunities for women as well as men.’