As the professional body for solicitors in Scotland, we strongly believe in the importance of equality and diversity.
The Law Society of Scotland is committed to providing a fair and supportive environment within our own organisation while promoting and facilitating equality and diversity across the Scottish legal sector.
We re-iterated the importance of equality and diversity to the Scottish legal profession in our new strategy launched in late 2022:
"We are committed to a profession that reflects Scottish civil society and is a career choice based on talent and merit, irrespective of race, religion, social background, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age."
You can find out more about our work with the profession in our Research and policy section.
Our member data shows 56% of Scottish solicitors are women, while a significantly larger proportion of new entrants to the profession are female.
However, women are still under-represented at partner level, and in equivalent in-house roles, and take longer to achieve these positions than their male counterparts. There is also a substantial gender pay gap.
Male solicitors may find it harder to access flexible working options which their female colleagues access, particularly when they become parents.
Some of our members identify as non-binary, trans or of another gender. We are committed to ensuring all genders can thrive in the profession.
Scotland’s legal profession is becoming more diverse, albeit at a slower pace than the demographic change taking place in the communities it serves.
Around 7% of Scottish solicitors under 30 come from a minority ethnic background, compared with 3.5% across the profession as a whole.
In 2021 we launched our Racial Inclusion Group to learn from the lived and professional experiences of our Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) members and future members. The group released a report examining the key issues around racial inclusion in early 2022.
The profession benefits most when it looks beyond its duties under the Equality Act 2010 to harness the unique attributes and insights of each person.
We have been providing support and encouragement to a recently formed group to support and bring together disabled solicitors and law students in Scotland.
Social change has reduced unjust stigma and barriers, but surveys show our LGBTQ+ members continue to face discrimination and hate speech simply for being themselves.
We work with the Glass Network, firms and in-house employers to promote inclusive policies and workplace cultures.
Workplace bullying and harassment pose a major risk and the consequences for people and businesses can be severe.
The profession hasn’t had the best reputation for providing psychologically safe workplaces, and we are committed to building on the progress that's been made so far towards workplaces with modern and effective policies, practices and culture.
Our colleagues are our greatest asset and we also believe in the importance of setting an example to the wider profession through our commitment to transparency and inclusion.
The Law Society of Scotland’s workplace culture is built on our core values of respect, openness, progress, integrity and inclusion.
Our in-house equality and diversity working group is called FREDIE, which stands for fairness, respect, equality, diversity, inclusion and engagement. It is focused on developing and maintaining a workplace environment that is welcoming to people from all backgrounds and abilities.
The group meets every two months and has championed a number of important initiatives, including unconscious bias training and mental health awareness training.
Members of the group come from across the Law Society, with a shared commitment to ensure our organisation is as welcoming and inclusive as possible.
Our commitment to equality and inclusion is recognised through the Law Society of Scotland holding a prestigious Leaders in Diversity Award.
The accreditation from the National Centre for Diversity was granted in 2024 and built upon the Law Society’s initial award as an Investor in Diversity in 2022. It was awarded following a thorough process over a year, which included an in-depth assessment of the Law Society’s commitment to fairness, respect, equality, diversity, inclusion and engagement (FREDIE).
The assessment involved an audit of the Law Society’s people-focused policies, colleague surveys and focus group sessions. The audit noted the strength of FREDIE awareness within the organisation, how well its recommendations from the original accreditation have been implemented and the success in building a culture around hybrid working.
Law Society of Scotland Chief Executive Diane McGiffen said when the award was granted: “This is an absolutely fantastic achievement for the Society, showing our ongoing commitment to our people and playing a leading role on FREDIE for the profession."
We have published our gender pay gap figures since 2018 in accordance with the statutory reporting regulations. The UK Government requires businesses and organisations with 250 staff or more to report their gender pay figures annually. With around 140 employees, we report voluntarily as part of our commitment to equality and inclusion.
Gender pay figures tend to be more volatile for smaller organisations, and small changes in our workforce can have big impacts on our gender pay gap.
Our commitment to tackling our gender pay gap remains steadfast, and we continue to engage with all relevant issues that will aid improvement.
We strive to recruit people from a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences for both staff roles and for our committees. What we have in common is our passion and commitment to work for our members and the public.
To offset the possibility of unconscious bias, we use an anonymous recruitment process to assess applicants against consistent selection criteria.
For our committees we want their membership to reflect the diversity of Scotland’s legal profession and Scottish society, drawing on people from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible whose lives or professional experiences show they can make a valuable contribution to our work.
We are particularly keen to recruit people from groups that are currently under-represented on our committees, including disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, young people, and Black and ethnic minority people.
We recognise our responsibilities to the profession, to the public, and as an employer.
To represent and protect these diverse groups, we are committed to:
- value and recognise the contributions and needs of all people living in Scotland
- go beyond legal compliance by integrating equality and diversity into all that we do
- promote the importance and benefits of equality and diversity to the profession as a whole
- seek and make use of the widest possible experience, knowledge and understanding – both within and outwith our membership
In July 2023 we launched a Reasonable adjustments policy, which sets out how Law Society of Scotland staff and volunteers should make reasonable adjustments for those we serve as the professional body for Scottish solicitors.
We, alongside the legal profession, have various responsibilities in relation to equality and diversity covered by legislation and statutory codes.
- as employers
- as a regulator of the profession
- as providers of 'goods and services' (to the public)
We also have additional responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 as a:
- ‘public authority’ in respect of our public functions
- service provider to the profession
- trade (membership) organisation
- qualifications body