Oxbridge dominance of top legal jobs unmoved

Sutton Trust research finds three-quarters of leading judges and QCs attended Oxford or Cambridge

November 23, 2015
Barrister's wig

Three-quarters of the UK’s leading judges and QCs attended the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, a new study says.

Research by the Sutton Trust and an alliance of law firms found that 74 per cent of the 147 High Court and Appeal Court judges attended the institutions, compared with only 1 per cent of the UK population as a whole.

Among the 100 top QCs, as ranked by legal directory Chambers UK, 78 per cent went to Oxford or Cambridge.

The Sutton Trust and Prime, a group of 89 law firms that are committed to providing fair access to work experience, have expressed concern that the educational background of leading lawyers has changed little since the 1980s.

Among leading solicitors, again as rated by Chambers UK, 55 per cent were Oxbridge-educated.

The study also found that more than 70 per cent of leading judges and QCs had attended independent schools, compared with 7 per cent of the UK population.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said that there was “still a big social mobility problem within the legal sector”.

“Irrespective of background, bright young people need to be able to achieve his or her potential and access jobs in law if that is their chosen profession,” he said. “Enabling greater access to a wider pool of diverse talent will deliver real benefits for employers and employees alike.”

A poll of senior figures in the legal industry, conducted by YouGov, found that 52 per cent of respondents felt that improving social mobility in the legal profession would be beneficial to their firm. Seventy-one per cent said that it would be good for society as a whole.

When asked what was preventing candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds from getting law training contracts, 23 per cent of those questioned said that interview performance was a key barrier. This was followed by a lack of pre-university educational attainment (18 per cent) and lack of understanding of the profession (16 per cent).

The Sutton Trust said that more legal firms should join Prime and its own Pathways to Law programme.


You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Related universities

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Sustainability Projects Officer (ISO) UNIVERSITY OF GREENWICH

Most Commented

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Home secretary says government will support 'best' universities

Man handing microphone to audience member

Academic attainment of disadvantaged students can be improved if they can decide how they are assessed, study claims

Italy's gold medallist

New measures to ensure universities are ‘not penalised’ for taking poorer students also outlined for next stage of TEF

Classroom, school

Higher education institutions can and should do more to influence education at a secondary school level, says Edward Peck