As the Society launches its biggest census of the profession for five years, it appeals for an ever better response than was achieved in 2013

Five years ago a massive 3,400 Scottish solicitors took part in a census for the Law Society of Scotland – the biggest piece of research into the solicitor profession ever carried out in Scotland. And now you have an opportunity to share your views and experiences in the 2018 survey.

Back then in 2013, the results of the study offered us, for the first time, a real insight into the hours worked by the profession and flexible working arrangements. For example, we found that 66% of males compared to 51% of females were permitted to work remotely.

Areas such as equal pay, career aspirations and discrimination were also covered. The study found that one in six had experienced some incident of discrimination – 22% of women compared with 8% of men.

Practical outcomes

Armed with the results of the 2013 survey, the Society was able to develop our equality and diversity strategy, carry out further studies and produce practical guides. We developed 10 equality standards for adoption by legal teams in firms and organisations. These are underpinned by practical advice on the steps to take to apply the standards. And our guide to preventing bullying and harassment has been recently updated to ensure it stays relevant for our members.

The survey results also resulted in us producing 12 online guides aimed at members of the profession taking maternity, adoption or shared parental leave, as well as a guide aimed specifically at new dads and one for line mangers of people on leave.

We gained really valuable insight into the gender pay gap in the legal profession, and the survey results led to further research in specific areas including a transgender experience case study, and perceptions and impacts of working patterns within the profession. They also achieved increased awareness about potential barriers to progression – highlighted during a year-long “conversation on progression” in 2016.

And this time round?

Fast forward five years and we have launched our latest census, known as the Profile of the Profession survey or #LawscotPoP for those on social media. This time there will be less emphasis on flexible working in the survey and more emphasis on bullying, discrimination and harassment which members may have experienced personally or witnessed in the workplace.

It is important that the survey results reflect different legal professionals in Scotland, and so we are inviting accredited paralegals, non-practising members and solicitors retained on the roll to take part as well as practising and trainee solicitors.

The survey results will help us to understand just how the profession is changing over the years – for example, we know that the profession is now predominantly female and aged under 45, contrary to the common perception of a solicitor being a middle-aged man. What does this mean for individuals as they progress in their careers, for their employers and for the Society as their professional body?

Just as in 2013, the research findings will provide insight into the attitudes of individuals in the profession on a range of equality issues and will help to identify any issues in relation to employment policies and career development within the legal sector. The results will also help us shape our equality and diversity work over the next few years – we fully believe that by making this central to our work we can ensure that we continue to have a vibrant and innovative legal profession that is accessible to all and attracts the brightest and best talent.

Shamelessly we are appealing to your competitive side, and asking for as many of you as possible to please take the online survey so we can once again make this the biggest census of the Scottish legal profession. The online anonymous survey runs until 30 May and should take between 15 and 25 minutes to complete. Respondents can claim up to one hour CPD.

The Profile of the Profession survey 2018 is carried out by independent researchers Rocket Science, and the link as well as FAQs can be found at

Follow us on Twitter (@Lawscot) and join the discussion using the hashtag #LawscotPoP

Together we can all help shape the legal profession’s equality and diversity agenda.

The Author
Elaine MacGlone is equality and diversity manager at the Law Society of Scotland
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