According to the gov.uk website, social mobility is “the link between a person’s occupation or income and the occupation or income of their parents. Where there is a strong link, there is a lower level of social mobility. Where there is a weak link, there is a higher level of social mobility”.
Studies have suggested that the UK has a poor rate of social mobility and that those who are born into lower-income families do not have access to the same opportunities as those with a more privileged background.
A lack of social mobility impacts access to training and education, jobs, and earnings.
Supporting social mobility is important to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to reach their full potential and advance, regardless of their education or background.
Social mobility is a key component of equality and diversity, and the SRA recognise that “law firms rely on the quality of their people and win business by reflecting the clients and communities they serve”.
In a survey commissioned by the SRA in 2021, compiling data from more than 186,890 people working in 9,667 firms, the following in relation to the general makeup of the profession has been noted when considering the two core elements are below:
- 66% of lawyers are from a professional background compared to 37% of the national benchmark set by the Social Mobility Commission when analysing statistics gathered from the overall workforce.
- 14% of lawyers are from an intermediate background compared to 24% nationally (the benchmark set by the Social Mobility Commission as above).
- 20% of lawyers are from a lower socio-economic background compared to 39% nationally (the benchmark set by the Social Mobility Commission as above).
It was found that there is a greater proportion of lawyers who attended an independent/fee-paying school than nationally (when compared with data compiled by the Department for Education and the Social Mobility Commission considering the national workforce):
- 20% of lawyers attended an independent/fee-paying school (no change since 2019).
- 3% of lawyers attended an independent/ fee-paying school, where they received a bursary covering 90% or more of the tuition.
- 43% of lawyers attended a state school (up from 62% in 2019).
- 20% attending selective (on academic, faith or other grounds) state schools.
- 8% attended schools outside the UK (down from 10% in 2019).
- 6% of lawyers preferred not to declare their school type.
You can find more information about national statistics using the link below, where the SRA has dissected data concerning job roles (partners, support staff, etc.) and other diversity characteristics, such as gender, race, age and sexual orientation.
Social mobility at Lester Aldridge
LA has an inclusive culture. We emphasise social mobility internally, supporting different career paths and routes into law, such as CILEX and Graduate Solicitor Apprenticeships and supporting colleagues in business/operational roles.
Article by Chanjot Sandhi, Trainee Solicitor, and Eleanor Collins, Associate, part of our internal Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.