The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge continue to afford their alumni a career advantage, particularly at the top of the legal profession, according to a recent report by the Sutton Trust which works with leading law firms to create opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Leading People 2016 report into the educational backgrounds of the UK professional elite reviewed the educational backgrounds of leading solicitors at the five ‘magic circle’ firms, barristers and judiciary.
It found that of the top 100 QCs in the UK in 2015 nearly 80 per cent had attended Oxbridge. Of those magic circle solicitors ranked in band 1 by Chambers and Partners, this proportion fell to 55 per cent but still represents a clear majority.
The report concludes that even if a candidate is an academic high-achiever, the Oxbridge graduates are more likely to succeed, as ‘students from particular universities are given precedence over others, even if the latter have higher grades in the same subject’.
Although the findings of the research show Oxbridge coming out on top at the magic circle firms, the situation is more diverse across the whole profession. The Solicitors Regulation Authority now collects data on solicitors’ educational backgrounds with the aim to monitoring and increase diversity in the legal sector.
RedLaw adds, ‘The Sutton Trust does great work with their Pathways to Law programme. We are seeing more top law firms developing social mobility programmes in the quest to find and recruit the best legal talent’.