Tuesday 18 October 2016 8:01 pm

More than half of solicitors are from the first generation of their family to attend university, finds Law Society

More than half (53 per cent) of solicitors in England and Wales are part of the first generation of their family to go to university, figures out today show.

The diversity report by the Law Society also found that slightly over one in ten (11 per cent) of the country's solicitors in 2015 were eligible for free school meals while growing up.

The profession is also edging towards a balanced male-female split, with women now accounting for 49 per cent of England and Wales' solicitors. Those from black and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds made up 14 per cent of the profession, which the Society pointed out was close to the make-up of the wider population.

"As the professional body for solicitors, we support progress for the best candidates, regardless of their background, so that our profession reflects the population it serves," said Law Society president Robert Bourns.

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However, the Society was disappointed to note those with a disability were still sorely underrepresented in the ranks of the legal eagles, accounting for just six per cent of professionals.

The report also highlighted that just 29 per cent of partners were women, while just 11 per cent were from a BAME background.

Bourns added: "At more senior levels we have a lot of work to do before we can say with any confidence that we demonstrate equal opportunities for all."

Figures released last year by the Sutton Trust and PRIME cast doubt on social mobility in the legal profession, revealing around a third (32 per cent) of partners at firms and three-quarters (74 per cent) of top judges had been privately educated, compared with just seven per cent of the general population.