Diversity League Table 2009: The Results

Thompsons leads the pack, with Allen & Overy, Wedlake Bell and Arnold & Porter, all heading up key areas in the Diversity League Table 2009.

In spite of the difficult economic climate, it is clear that diversity and equality of opportunity are still high on the agenda for some of the UK’s leading firms; with participation in the Diversity League Table increasing by more than 20% on the previous year, up to 49 firms.

Thompsons have moved from second overall position in 2008 into the top position, taking the place of previous holders Flint Bishop. Allen & Overy displaces Norton Rose as the highest ranked City 10 firm. Wedlake Bell retain their position as the highest ranked UK Top 100 firm and Arnold & Porter move up four positions to replace Reed Smith as the highest placed international firm.

Despite changes at the top, there is still a lot to cheer as a number participants compare significantly well against industry figures across all of the main diversity strands with many firms showing significant internal improvements across both ethnicity and gender diversity over the last three years.

Now in its 4th year the Diversity League Table, which is produced by the Black Solicitors Network (BSN), looks at the diversity profiles of some of the UK’s leading firms; ranking them in key areas before compiling the various tables which come together to give the overall Diversity League Table 2009.

As well as the main themes of gender and ethnicity, the 2009 report has, for the first time, sought to capture data on LGB and disabled employees. This is also the first year that barristers’ chambers have been approached to take part. A total of 60 sets were invited to participate and 23 have agreed to do so. This is a very promising start and the Bar Council is working to ensure that more chambers come on board in future.

1 Garden Court Family Chambers are top of the overall ranking for participating chambers.

In addition to the actual league tables and associated diversity profiles of participating firms and chambers, the 2009 report also features for the first time, best practice case studies, an interview with Morrison & Foerster’s Trevor James and an exclusive with the Attorney General, the Rt. Hon Baroness Scotland QC.

Case studies, including some from Outer Temple Chamber, Hill Dickinson and Paul Hastings, highlight a range of positive diversity programmes. Regardless of a participant’s final ranking the report shows that excellent diversity initiatives can be found across the profession.

These key changes to the report have helped establish The Diversity League Table 2009 as a leading diversity publication; receiving support from key figures across the industry and beyond.

The Rt. Hon. Harriet Harman QC MP, Minister for Women and Equality said, “The Diversity League Table is an important publication because it shines a light on equality in the legal profession. It allows us all to judge how much progress we are making, with a view to ensuring that we both learn from those who are making progress, and that we ensure that those who are lagging behind catch up.”

Desmond Browne QC, Chairman of the Bar Council said, “We hope the League Table will continue to attract interest at the Bar and will stimulate good equality practice. The Bar Council wholly supports this project, and we will continue to encourage chambers to appreciate the benefits of participation.”

The Diversity League Table provides important information to a wide range of stakeholders; for participating firms it enables peer comparisons as well as wider industry comparisons. For procurers of legal services it provides at-a-glance information on those who are transparent about their diversity statistics; increasingly important as diversity plays a larger role in the procurement process. Individuals lawyers, and students, are able to make a decision on which firms to approach based on a firm’s diversity profile matching their own specific requirements.

David Edmonds, Chair of the Legal Services Board (LSB) said, “I believe the profession must now start to create a universal framework to measure the effectiveness of the many laudable initiatives being undertaken across the sector – both to chart the impact of current programmes and to identify where the gaps are and to start to tackle them. I welcome the fact that this League Table shifts the emphasis onto what is actually being achieved and how achievement can be measured.”

Whilst identifying a number of firms and chambers who are performing exceptionally well, the Diversity League Table 2009 has also identified areas of concern, especially in relation to ethnic minority (EM) representation across most grades, which in many areas is decreasingly slightly. Not withstanding that, participating firms and chambers have been roundly applauded for their efforts and in their support for this important BSN led initiative.

The Rt. Hon Baroness Scotland QC, the Attorney General said within this year’s report, “I would like to congratulate those firms and chambers who took part in the Diversity League Table. They have demonstrated their commitment to equality and diversity and to being transparent with how well they are performing in this area.”

Des Hudson, Law Society Chief Executive, said “The Society congratulates firms who have taken part in this report – it shows a strong commitment to making progress in diversity in the profession. Our own Diversity and Inclusion Charter provides a framework for action across the whole profession.”

Cordella Bart-Stewart, Chair of the Black Solicitors Network said, “The importance of the Diversity League Table is that it leads to greater transparency, and to the ability to identify issues and contribute to the debate on identifying solutions. As can be seen in the report, much good work is being done however; there is still a long way to go. In a global economy, no profession can afford to be complacent until all its members are treated fairly and have equal access to opportunities regardless of their class, race, gender or any other factor.”

The Diversity League Table is produced by the Black Solicitors Network, sponsored by the Law Society and supported by the Bar Council, the Legal Services Board (LSB), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

Michael Webster, Editor of the Diversity League Table and a BSN Board member commented, “Despite the difficult economic climate, BSN are pleased to report a significant increase in overall participation in this year’s Diversity League Table; from 40 firms in 2008 to 72 firms and chambers in 2009. The inclusion of chambers this year has been a very important development. It is something we are keen to build on as it helps us gain a better understanding of diversity across the wider profession.”

He continues, “The data tells the story; whilst there are many positives, the league table also highlights a decrease in the numbers of EM lawyers across many areas. So there is still some way to go. Maybe we need to start looking more closely at the actual impact of some of the initiatives which attempt to attract more EM lawyers to the profession. It is also important to look at what initiatives exist to assist in the retention of EM lawyers as it is the percentages at the associate and partner levels within the leading firms which are decreasing.”

He concludes, “The increased transparency that the Diversity League Table provides gives us all the opportunity to identify key issues and work together as an industry to address them.”

Having set down a marker in 2009 with so many new aspects to the publication, work will soon start on the Diversity League Table 2010. Existing participants will be contacted in due course. New firms and chambers interested in participating should emailbsn@satsumaconsultancy.co.uk to make sure the project managers have up-to-date contact information.


For more information about the Diversity League Table, 2009, please contact Godwin Ohajah at the Satsuma Consultancy on 020 7366 6326 or by email atgodwin@satsumaconsultancy.co.uk


Summary of the findings (numbering is for ease of reference purposes only):

  1. Thompsons leads the overall ranking for all participating firms, with Wedlake Bell andRussell Jones & Walker in second and third place respectively.
  1. Figures for EM Trainees are encouraging; they went from 10.65% in 2007 to 14.32% in 2008 and have settled at 13.58%. Weil, Gotshal & Manges head this table with more than 34% EM Trainees; followed closely by Latham & Watkins and Flint Bishop in at joint second place with 33.33%, well above the industry average.
  1. At partner level, the overall figures for EM Partners, down from 3.65% in 2008 to 3.53% in 2009, are not as positive as for trainees; although Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodgefeature strongly in this area with 13.64% EM Partners. The overall figures for Female Partners have increased slightly from 21.45% in 2008 up to 22.05% in 2009. Pannoneheads up this table with 43.75% Female Partners, followed closely by Keoghs (42.86%) and Flint Bishop (36.36%).
  1. At associate level the overall figures for Female Associates remain fairly static at 55.41% in 2008 and 55.31% in 2009. The figures for the Top 10 firms in this area are strong, withFlint Bishop (75%), Irwin Mitchell (70.86%) and Beachcroft (66.13%) all reporting strong representation. Again it is the figures for EM Associates which lag behind, falling from 9.57% in 2008 to 8.69% in 2009. Within those figures however, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (23.91%), Russell Jones & Walker (21.31%) and Lawrence Graham(17.14%) all report strong representation.
  1. At the paralegal legal level, Paul Hastings and DLA Piper have 100% female paralegals, as well as 50% or more female trainees. Charles Russell and K&L Gates also report 100% female paralegals. Baker & McKenzie and Reed Smith are among 6 firms who report 30% or more EM Paralegals.
  1. Allen & Overy head up the table for City 10 firms, followed by Clifford Chance andNorton Rose in second and third place respectively. However no City 10 firm features in the leading 10 positions in the overall Diversity League Table.
  1. The proportion of Female and EM Partners appears to have decreased slightly in both areas for City 10 firms; the same applies to Trainees in both areas as well as EM Associates. However, a slight increase in representation is recorded in the area of Female associates.
  1. Arnold & Porter head up the table for international firms, followed by Baker & McKenzie and Reed Smith in second and third place respectively. These three firms also feature in the top 10 in the overall Diversity League Table.
  1. Wedlake Bell heads up the table of UK Top100 firms, followed by Russell Jones & Walker and Charles Russell, in second and third place respectively.
  1. Reporting on firm’s LGB profiles for the first time; Cleary Gottlieb (7.7%), Lewis Silkin(4.7%) and Olswang head this table, but just as importantly report low proportions of “unknown/undisclosed”, suggesting openness to sexual orientation within these firms which is encouraging.
  1. In the area of disabled employees, Flint Bishop (6.1%), K&L Gates (4.4%) and Baker McKenzie (3.6%) head this table.
  1. The Diversity League Table provides transparency and is not just about being number one. The report also shows that within the lower ranked firms, there have been positives. Such as Clarke Wilmot who although not ranked in the overall Top 20 have increased their EM representation from 6.4% in 2007 to 7.8% in 2009; and their female representation from 46.8% to 53.6% over the same period.
  1. From those invited to participate, the response rates were as follows: Firms, 28% and Chambers, almost 40%.
  1. 1 Garden Court Family Law Chambers heads the Diversity League Table for all participating chambers, with 25 Bedford Row and Tooks Chambers coming in at joint second.
  1. At QC level, 1 Garden Court has the highest proportion of female QCs (71.43%) with 1 Crown Office Row (31.58%) and Cloisters (25%) second and third respectively. This compares very favourably to industry statistics (average 10% female QCs). With regards to EM QCs, the table is headed by 25 Bedford Row (20%), followed by Serle Court andTooks Chambers in joint second place (14.29%). This compares to an industry average of 5.3%.
  1. For members (which excludes QCs) 1 Garden Court (51.06%) heads the table for female barristers, closely followed by Tooks Chambers (50%) in second place and 11KBW (44.12%) in third. It should be noted that all of the Top10 in this area achieved above 35%, which compares to the industry average of 31.1%. In the area of EM QC’s 11KBW(17.34%) heads the group, followed by 1 Crown Office Row (15.12%) and Nine Bedford Row (15%). Comparing to industry figure of 10.6%.

The Diversity League Table is produced by the Black Solicitors Network, sponsored by the Law Society and supported by the Bar Council, the Legal Services Board (LSB), the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

Black Solicitors Network is a Law Society Group and a not-for-profit organisation. Formally recognised by the Law Society in 2003, the BSN has been supporting and promoting the development of minority lawyers in the UK since 1995.

Participation in the Diversity League Table is voluntary.

A total of 180 firms were invited to take part in 2009; made up of the UK Top150 and 30 leading international firms

Approximately 60 chambers were invited to take part in the 2009 survey. This figure is set to increase significantly for 2010, after further consultation with the Bar Council and other stakeholders.

The Diversity League Table is project managed and published by the Satsuma Consultancy on behalf of the Black Solicitors Network.

For general information on the Diversity League Table please contact the Satsuma Consultancy on 020 7366 6326 or by email on: bsn@satsumaconsultancy.co.uk