The Legal Services Board (LSB) has pushed through radical plans to force law firms and barristers’ chambers to reveal social mobility data on their websites.
From 2012, the LSB will require firms and chambers to publish information about socio-economic background of their workforce for the first time, as well as statistics on age, gender, disability, ethnic group and caring responsibilities.
But the regulator has allowed employers not to publish the results on sexual orientation, religion or belief and gender reassignment.
LSB chief executive Chris Kenny said: “These measures are the latest in a series of steps to turn good intentions into action in the legal services sector.”
“The publication of the results of these diversity surveys will both enable more targeted regulation and create a commercial incentive for firms and chambers to take steps to improve diversity. Crucially, these should have effect at access level and also later on, through improving levels of retention and progression,” he added.
But of the top 20 firms (according to their ranking in The Lawyer UK 200 Annual Report 2010) surveyed exclusively by The Lawyer earlier this year, Addleshaw Goddard, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Eversheds, Freshfields, Herbert Smith, Linklaters, Pinsent Masons and Simmons & Simmons have now introduced socio-economic monitoring to their training contract and vacation scheme applications (read more).
Regulators across the sector will also be required to collect and publish data, and to ensure that firms and chambers are complying with the new rules.
The survey results are due to be collated by the end of next year, and will be used to build a aggregated view of diversity in each branch of the legal profession, to allow firms and regulators to instigate improvement where necessary.
The news follows increased focus on promoting diversity within the profession, with the announcement earlier this month that barrister’s clerks are being forced to undertake diversity training (read more).