Private school alumni make up 50% of City partners

updated on 05 October 2020

A recent study by the Bridge Group – a social equality consultancy – found that more than half of partners at City firms went to private schools, while solicitors from lower socio-economic backgrounds take 18 months longer to reach partner.

Firms including Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Hogan Lovells were involved in the study.

On top of the disparity in time it takes a privately educated solicitor to reach partner compared to a solicitor from a lower socio-economic background, the study also found that those who identify as white reach partner nearly 24 months faster than those from other ethnic groups. Meanwhile, women take nearly 12 months longer to reach partner compared to male solicitors.

The Bridge Group said: “The pipeline is still disproportionately narrow for those from state school backgrounds. It is highly likely that the predominance of independently schooled associates will in future be at least replicated at partner level.”

Alongside several recommendations to firms, the consultancy also made a request that firms review their criteria for partner progression.

President of the Law Society, Simon Davis, said: “To see firms collaborating on research of this kind, sharing resource and data to get to the heart of the issue is a good sign, as only by working together as a profession will we really be able to make a difference. Building on previous Bridge Group research on the relationship between early career progression in the law, this latest report gives us a fuller picture of the impact that socio-economic background has on varying stages of the employee life cycle and asks us difficult questions.

“Many law firms are doing great things and have made good progress, more can and will be done.”