We collect diversity data every two years as part of the annual practising certificate (PC) renewal process in order to better understand what the Scottish legal profession looks like, support and advance our equality and diversity work, and track changes in the profession.
Our most recent data was collected during the 2022/23 PC renewal and completed by around 80% of the membership. It offers a comprehensive picture of the profession, providing a valuable insight into how the profession compares to the diversity of the population of Scotland as a whole and the challenges that we face.
Solicitors were asked for information on their ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and social background, including the type of school they mainly attended and what their parents’ occupation was.
In creating our diversity questions, we worked closely with representative groups, including the Scottish Ethnic Minorities Lawyers’ Association (SEMLA), The Glass Network and the charity Inclusion Scotland, to ensure that the information collected was as comprehensive as possible.
All diversity data is automatically pseudonymised to protect members’ identities and does not form part of members' information.
The research aims to complement our Profile of the Profession research, which examines a broad range of equality and diversity issues. The diversity data is not intended to replace the Profile of the Profession, but aims to help expand our understanding of the profession and inform our work, such as that undertaken by our Racial Inclusion Group.
The next set of diversity data will be collated during the PC renewal of autumn 2024.
If you would like to know more about this research, please contact email@example.com.
Key findings for 2022/23
- The Scottish legal profession continues to gradually become more ethnically diverse.
- 86.48% of solicitors are white, compared to 88.01% in 2020/21.
- At least 4.01% of the profession is from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, up 0.63% in two years.
- More than 10% of solicitors aged 30 and under are from an ethnic minority background, up more than 3% in two years.
- However, progress is not equal across all ethnicities. For example, solicitors under 30 from a Pakistani background have increased, while those under 30 from a Chinese background have decreased.
- The feminisation of the profession continues, with almost 57% of solicitors being female compared to 55% two years ago.
- There continues to be an acute issue attracting young men from an ethnic minority background into the profession, although there has been a slight improvement from 28% two years ago to 32.63% today.
- At least 4.18% of the profession is LGBTQ+, compared to 3.2% in 2020/21.
- Members identifying as LGBTQ+ rises to 6.6% for those aged 30 and under.
- At least 5.67% of the profession has a disability, such as blindness, deafness or a mobility impairment, compared to 4.8% in 2020/21.
- More than 47% of Scottish solicitors do not subscribe to a religion, up 1% on 2020/21.
- At least 67.1% of the solicitor population was state educated, compared to 66.7% in 2020/21.
- This proportion increases to at least 72.94% of those aged under 30.
It should be noted that the diversity data does not capture trainee data, because many trainees do not have a PC and so cannot renew it, and those who do renew are recorded as “employees” as they are PC holders. We are currently investigating how best to capture trainee diversity data.
The infographic below provides an illustrative overview of the headline stats from the 2022/23 data. If you have problems viewing the charts, you may need to update your browser. Alternatively, you can download a PDF version of our diversity data here.
Previous years' data can be found at the bottom of this page.
We collected diversity data for the first time as part of the annual Practising Certificate (PC) renewal process for 2020/21 in order to better understand what the Scottish legal profession looked like and support and advance our equality and diversity work.
The diversity data was completed by around 80% of the membership and offered the most complete picture of the profession to that point, providing a valuable insight into how the profession compared to the diversity of the population of Scotland as a whole and the challenges that we faced.
Key findings for 2020/21
- The Scottish legal profession was getting more ethnically diverse, although more slowly than the wider population.
- Just over 88% of the profession was white, with at least 3.38% of the profession coming from a BAME background.
- Almost 7% of solicitors aged under 30 came from a BAME background.
- While the feminisation of the profession continued, with around two-thirds of newly admitted members being female each year, there appeared to be an acute issue attracting BAME men into the profession, with just 28% of BAME solicitors under 30 being male.
- At least 3.2% of the profession was LGBTQ+.
- At least 4.8% of the profession had a disability, such as blindness, deafness or a mobility impairment.
- Over 46% of Scottish solicitors did not subscribe to a religion.
- More than two-thirds of the profession mainly attended a state school.
- A solicitor’s socio-economic background did not appear to affect their career progression once they were in the profession. For example, those whose parents did routine/manual work were just as likely to be partners. However, it appeared to be harder for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds to enter the profession to begin with.
Our infographic provides an illustrative overview of the headline stats from the 2020/21 data. Download the PDF version of the infographic here.