Number of female partners at law firms continues to rise

Women in Law


The number of women partners in law firms is growing and now stands at 33%, according to data published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Based on information from 180,000 people working at 9,000 law firms across England and Wales, the SRA’s data shows that the number of female partners is slightly lower – 29% – for bigger firms with more than 50 partners, although this represents a 4% increase on 2014 figures.

Nearly half of all solicitors are women (48%) and one in five (21%) are from a black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

Larger firms continue to have a lower proportion of BAME partners (8%) compared to more than a third (34%) of partners in sole practice coming from a BAME background.

Just 3% of solicitors describe themselves as disabled, which is significantly below the Government’s 10% estimate for the wider UK workforce. 3% identified as being lesbian, gay or bisexual, which compares to Stonewall’s estimate of 5-7% for the wider population.

Further key findings of the SRA survey include:

  • 57% of partners attended a state school (up from 47% from 2014).
  • The majority of partners (59%) were the first generation in their family to attend university.
  • A third of all solicitors have primary child-caring responsibilities.
  • 2% of solicitors said their gender identity was different to that assigned to them at birth.

The SRA has published a report on the benefits of diversity alongside its survey results.

Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, said: I know we will all welcome the progress that is clearly being made in many areas. But there is much more to do to achieve a truly diverse profession that reflects the community it serves, encourages people to access the legal services they need and offers opportunities for the brightest and best from every background.

“The changes we are making to the training of solicitors, the growing and varied initiatives in the sector to support people into the profession and the leadership shown by many firms will all help. Our new report on the benefits of diversity makes it clear  that diversity is good for business and well as for the public, the profession and wider society. I think the report will help law firms to consider what more they can do to realise those business benefits, as well as doing the right thing.

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