Legal Profession: Equality

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 30th January 2017.

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Photo of Kate Hoey Kate Hoey Labour, Vauxhall

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps her Department is taking to increase diversity in (a) the legal sector and (b) among paralegals.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Our world-leading legal services industry is based on the talent of those who work within in. We want to do more to encourage talented people from all backgrounds to succeed in the profession.

There is already a good framework in place. The Legal Services Board and Approved Regulators have a duty to promote competition in the provision of regulated legal services, and encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective legal profession, and the LSB has recently consulted on how this can be better delivered. The Institute of Paralegals is an independent, non-statutory body that paralegals can choose to become members of. It sets standards and promotes its members as professional paralegals and has created the Professional Access Scheme which brings together various initiatives designed to widen access to legal careers, increase diversity within the sector and provide better careers information.

The Lord Chancellor has met with the legal profession on a number of occasions to discuss how best to advance diversity, notably a recent roundtable of City firms, the Bar and the Senior judiciary. She has made it clear that widening the talent pool, including identifying opportunities to improve social empowerment and mobility for those wishing to enter the legal profession is one of her main priorities.

A series of cross sector working groups are being established to progress a number of key work strands, one of which will specifically consider how to further improve diversity in the legal sector.

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