A recent report by the City of London’s Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce, of which I’m a member, found that 64% of senior leaders in UK financial and professional services are from higher socio-economic backgrounds. This statistic means that UK financial and professional services are out of kilter with the rest of the economy and are unrepresentative of the communities they serve. These inequalities not only threaten the productivity and competitiveness of the sector, but they also reinforce existing inequalities and limit opportunities for the UK to thrive.
As a profession, the UK legal industry needs to ensure greater access to careers in law and it’s fantastic that 16 firms have joined us to support our new UK apprenticeships pledge to date. The pledge has been formed to highlight our joint commitment to apprenticeships and to publicise, for the benefit of current and future apprentices, the recognition of alternative paths to qualification as equivalent to more traditional routes, such as training contracts.
Apprenticeships play an essential role in bringing people, and our future leaders, into the profession from a diverse range of backgrounds and it has been great to see many firms, including ours, implementing highly successful apprenticeship programmes over recent years. Our programme for school leavers in the UK launched in 2021, with a solicitor programme in London and a paralegal programme in Newcastle with a particular focus on training and digital innovation. Since its launch, I have continuously been inspired by the sheer talent, commitment and enthusiasm of our solicitor apprentices and I know that the future of the profession is incredibly bright in their hands.
With this pledge, we hope to continue to help level the playing field for all – which is not only the right thing to do, but it is also essential for our people, clients and businesses. It’s exciting to have so many firms come on this journey with us to create change and drive forward a shared goal and I look forward to seeing what’s ahead.