THE legal profession is socially exclusive, wealthier and better educated than its other-profession peers, a new report has found.
A new report on access to profession has asked the legal profession, including judges, barristers and solicitors, to widen access after it has become increasing more exclusive in recent decades.
The UK-based report, compiled by a panel including former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, claims the legal profession is more accessible to men than women, and less so to minority ethnic groups.
In the report, Milburn said: "Despite the narrowing of the gender pay gap, the top professional jobs still tend to go to men not women.
"Despite increasing numbers of people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds in professional jobs, many professions are still unrepresentative of the modern society they serve. And most alarmingly of all there is strong evidence, given to the panel, that the UK's professions have become more, not less, socially exclusive over time."
Of all the professions, lawyers typically come from more wealthy families, the report finds, as reported by Legal Week. As well, more specifically, lawyers born in 1970 were brought up in families with an income 64 per cent higher than the national average.
In Australia, where these has been little or no research on the level of inclusivity of the legal profession, few are willing to draw conclusions about the Australian condition.
The Law Council of Australia, the peak national body representing the profession, is not aware of any surveys or reports in the issue. The Law Council was not willing to draw conclusions about the Australian profession because of this absence.
Law Council president John Corcoran said: “I am not aware of any parallel studies done here so it is difficult to compare the situation in the UK with that of Australia.”
“But from my observations I believe the Australian legal profession is as inclusive and as diverse as other professions in this country – and that’s certainly the way we’d like it to be," he said.
But Corcoran did raise the issue of the expensive post graduate law studies in Australia, suggesting this may lead to leaving less wealthy students locked out of the profession.
“One area of concern, however, is the trend in Australia for full-fee courses for post graduate law studies.”