Survey shows improving gender equality in legal profession

Almost 80% of Scottish solicitors and accredited paralegals feel that gender equality has improved in the legal profession over the past five years.
Profile of the Profession 2018

The publication of the 2018 Profile of the Profession report is a landmark for us and for the legal profession. The research examined equality and diversity issues and was carried out by independent researchers Rocket Science. With over 2,700 full responses from solicitors, trainee solicitors and accredited paralegals, it’s the biggest survey of its kind in Scotland.

We have also published a response to its findings setting out 28 steps we will take to address equality and diversity issues in the legal profession, which contains comparisons with other professions.

If you would like to know more about the report or the 28 steps we will take, please contact us at

Read the report and our response to it. Our news release is available to read here.

The Profile of the Profession is major study of those working in Scotland’s legal sector. It was last conducted in May 2018, with more than 2,700 Scottish solicitors and accredited paralegals taking part.

Previous survey results have helped us to:

  • develop and promote our equality and diversity standards to practice units
  • undertake further more detailed research into specific areas including a transgender experience case study, perceptions and impacts of working patterns within the legal profession, and experiences of established legal professionals within the profession
  • focus on gender equality in the legal profession by publishing the sector gender pay gap in 2015 and running a year-long 'conversation on progression’ in 2016
  • use our better understanding of the experiences of parents in the profession, hosting events for those returning to work, and publishing well-received parents in the profession guidance.

Approximately every five years, the Law Society of Scotland undertakes a census of our members called the ‘Profile of the Profession’ survey.

The results of the survey underpin all of the Society’s equality and diversity work. The last survey in 2013 enabled the Society to complete research on the gender pay gap in the profession and develop and promote the Society’s Equality & Diversity standards to practice units.

The last survey was done in 2013. This survey will explore changes to the profession since 2013 as well as new issues not covered by previous surveys. Two prior surveys were completed in 2006 and 2009.

When you hit submit on the survey a completion screen will pop up. You will need to screen shot this and either print or save this screen shot for auditing purposes.

For those submitting a paper copy of the survey, Rocket Science will generate a receipt for you to use for CPD auditing.

Anything you say in the survey about harassment, bullying or discrimination will not be passed onto the Law Society of Scotland. This means, if you include personal details of yourself or other individuals, this will not be passed onto the Law Society of Scotland. If you would like to discuss anything with the Law Society about specific issues of harassment, bullying or discrimination please contact Rob Marrs at the Law Society of Scotland at

Rocket Science are an independent research and consultancy organisation headquartered in Scotland. They have been commissioned to provide an independent and objective survey and analysis of the Profile of the Profession. More about them can be found at their website or by contacting Clare Hammond at or 0131 226 4949.

Previous Profile of the Profession results

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

Read the report

During 2009, we worked with the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland 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.

The 'Changes in the Society's membership profile' 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.

Read the report

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.

Read the report