Take a look at our key research including looking at the whole sector to assess change, looking at specific groups, like minority ethnic solicitors, or specific issues, like bullying.

In November 2015 we published a series of recommendations in our paper responding to the Judicial Appointments Board Diversity Steering Group (DSG) report from its conference, 'Merit and Diversity - Compatible Aspirations in Judicial Appointments?' 

Read our response

Previous surveys of the legal profession in Scotland showed that transgender solicitors are a small but fairly consistent number (less than 1% of the total profession) over the past 8 years.   Other than large scale quantitative surveys, which did attempt to capture the issues faced by transgender people within the profession, Society had not, until now, conducted any research to consider the experiences and views of transgender legal professionals.  This powerful case study offer insight into issues which may be of wider relevance.

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In our main research we have consistently seen a structural difference in pay, progression and partnership progression based on various factors around patterns of work.  We wanted to follow-up this statistical data with in-depth qualitative work to understand personal experiences and to look for solutions around this issue, with a particular additional focus on the impact of technology.  This research brings together statistics from the main Profile research (below) and new telephone interview and focus group evidence. 

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In the first ten years of our equality work we had never looked at the views and concerns of more experienced members, and it was suggested by many in that group that we should.  This In the first ten years of our equality work we had never looked at the views and concerns of more experienced members, and it was suggested by many in that group that we should.  This research brings together statistics from the main Profile research (below) and new telephone interview and focus group evidence.brings together statistics from the main Profile research (below) and new telephone interview and focus group evidence.

View the research

This major research involved a survey being sent to all members of the profession and we received of 3,400 responses. 

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The Society has now published the report Preventing Bullying and Harassment in the Profession.

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In addition new guidance has been developed to help individuals and employers prevent and tackle bullying within the profession.

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This study builds on Profile of the Profession research, which reported that around 22% of the profession had experienced bullying or harassment. This research aims to increase the Society's understanding of bullying and harassment in the profession in order to develop strategies to help prevent and manage workplace bullying and harassment.

Researchers interviewed 15 solicitors from across the career spectrum, from trainee and newly qualified to partner level and includes case studies from private practice and in-house, about their experiences of being bullied.

The recommendations include:

  • raising awareness of bullying and harassment across the profession
  • developing policies, guidance and best practice
  • increase trainee support
  • supporting firms on building management skills
  • ongoing monitoring and intervention

The new guidance along with the research findings will be issued to all firms in Scotland and the Society plans to hold a series of meetings and events for firms and HR managers to highlight how instances of bullying can be addressed effectively.

The report  is part of the Society's ongoing equality and diversity strategy and follows Profile of the Profession research in 2007, which suggested that despite increasing numbers of solicitors coming from an ethnic minority background, they were significantly less likely to be equity partners that their white colleagues.

The Law Society of Scotland is to launch an action plan in response to research which indicates that up to a third of ethnic minority solicitors believe their ethnicity has had a detrimental impact on their careers. More details will be provided on this site once available.

The research focuses on the experiences of ethnic minority background solicitors in Scotland, with researchers conducting a series of in-depth interviews with 27 ethnic minority solicitors, rather than other groups at risk of discrimination. The 2011 report, while not directly comparable in terms of research methodology and number of respondents, gives some grounds for optimism with a shift from the 2007 findings, in which as many as 48% of those of an ethnic minority background felt they had been discriminated against at work.

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During 2009, the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland worked with the Law Society and the Faculty of Advocates to conduct a survey of the Scottish legal profession to: establish baseline data on diversity; identify any potential barriers to judicial applications; and, elicit views about the factors which do or would encourage eligible candidates to apply.

This report by MVA Consultancy compares the data from Society members across the two surveys to identify any changes in the demographic profile of solicitors since the profile of the profession research was carried out.

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The Law Society of Scotland wants to ensure that it continues to learn from solicitors, clients and the public in order to promote best practice in relation to equality and diversity. The Society commissioned Equality Works to undertake the work between August and October 2008 to inform the production of forthcoming guidance for solicitors on equality and diversity and to inform the development of a new three-year equality strategy. The report identifies successes, opportunities and challenges to the work, and makes recommendations which will inform our upcoming strategy.

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The Society invited Capability Scotland's Equality Unit to host a disability equality involvement event in June 2008.

The aim was to obtain the views of disabled people on the complaints system adopted with the creation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission in October 2008.

Five disabled people with a range of impairments and conditions attended the event.

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This project was managed by an independent organisation, The Grange Group, and involved the distribution of a questionnaire to all of our members.

Of around 10,000 members, 3,017 responded, with a good demographic match to some of the data we can already definitively identify from our database of members (such as gender and age profiles). This means we believe we have a dataset we can be confident in.

As this was the Society's first time collecting much of this sensitive data, the decision was made to make the questionnaire anonymous and use a third-party data processor so that individuals were not having to return the data to the Society itself.

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This project saw directors and staff from different departments engage with members of the public with a range of disabilities in order to assess how the Society can better meet their needs.

The project was managed for the Society by the Inclusion Development Partnership. Any organisation considering work in this field is welcome to contact the Society to discuss our positive experience of working with this dedicated team.

Read the review

The Society and the Equal Opportunities Commission Scotland jointly commissioned this study into the position of women in the legal profession in Scotland because of the perception that women appeared to be obtaining proportionally fewer senior positions in practice or the public sector. There was very little recent empirical research into the accuracy of such perceptions.

The Society's thanks go to Moira MacMillan, Dr Nick McKerrell, Angus McFadyen and their supporting teams for their work on this project.

Read the summary

Read the full report