BAME solicitors in UK are underpaid, bullied – Law Society

Society's president says BAME solicitors face barriers "at every step of their career"

BAME solicitors in UK are underpaid, bullied – Law Society

Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) solicitors in the UK are earning less despite working longer hours than their white colleagues, a new report from the Law Society of England and Wales has revealed.

The society commissioned the study at the start of the year to assess the progress that has been made towards a more inclusive legal profession.

David Greene, president of the Law Society, said the findings highlighted the barriers BAME solicitors face “at every step of their career.”

According to the report, full-time BAME solicitors work an average of 1.5 hours more per week compared to their white counterparts. Despite this, they earn an average hourly wage of £27.01, which is lower than the £36.13 their white colleagues earn per hour.

A full-time white solicitor also gets £85,912 in average annual salary, including bonuses, higher than the £62,291 for Asian or Asian-British solicitors and £60,138 for solicitors of African or Caribbean descent.

The report also found that BAME solicitors were more prone to workplace discrimination and bullying, with 16% and 13% saying they experienced bullying and adverse discrimination, respectively, compared to the 13% and 8% of white respondents who faced similar incidents.

A third of black solicitors also admitted to having experienced some form of bullying and discrimination at work, the highest among all ethnic groups.

BAME solicitors also reported experiencing higher levels of work-related stress, with 24% saying they experienced “severe or extreme stress”, compared to 18% of their white counterparts.

The report concluded with recommended actions for firms on entry to the profession, retention, development and progression, inclusion, and data and evaluation.

Greene said the death of George Floyd in the US and the Black Lives Matter protests have “shone a light on the racial inequalities and injustices that persist around the world.”

“Our research shows that there are barriers for BAME practitioners at every step of their career, including the ethnicity pay gap, microaggressions, and the need to fit a certain culture to progress,” he said. “We hope our research and recommendations will give firms and legal businesses important food for thought and a much-needed blueprint for driving equality and inclusion up to the most senior levels.”

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