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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Independent Schools, Solicitors and Manipulated Statistics?

The Sutton Trust, a foundation with the aim of encouraging more state educated school children to attend better quality universities and reach the higher echelons of society, has published a report in the last few days. It has concluded that 74% of judges, 71% of barristers and 51% of solicitors went to independent schools, with 78% of barristers and 55% of solicitors going to Oxbridge.

I have to pick fault with this research - when you look at the sources of information used by the Sutton Trust to determine these figures they have basically been through the Chambers Directory. Great. The report seems to have been penned by an academic, but the selective nature of the report makes wonderful headlines but is almost certainly inaccurate to a wide extreme. Damned lies and statistics and all that.

There are over 110,000 solicitors in the UK. How many of these are in the Chambers Directory? Does Chambers really list the elite solicitors in the profession? I remember being in practice and our firm being listed. This seemed to consist of a researcher calling round firms in the local area and those firms expressing an opinion on who the best firm was for a particular field of law. If they had asked me this I would have almost certainly given the name of the firm most unlikely to affect my business interests!

The real motivation behind the report seems to be to maintain funding for The Sutton Trust's projects at getting more students from disadvantaged backgrounds into larger sized solicitors firms... However these firms traditionally select students on a range of criteria concentrating mainly on extremely high academic achievement plus a good mix of extra curricular activities/sports. Chances are that if you are likely to achieve strong academic grades you are going to be at a good university like Oxford/Cambridge and not at the Polytechnic of Westmoreland...
Jonathan Fagan is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and a non-practising Solicitor. Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment provides online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search our Vacancy Database. 

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