The report presents the results of case reviews and of a statistical analysis of SRA data. The terms of reference of the review were:
“To identify whether there is disparity in the way the SRA applies its policies and procedures in dealing with BME practitioners as compared to others with a view to identifying potential improvements to such practices, policies and procedures to maximise fairness and consistency.”
The 248-page report is the result of one of the most extensive pieces of independent research and analysis into regulatory outcomes for BME solicitors and builds on work previously commissioned by the SRA from Sir Herman Ouseley (2008) and Pearn Kandola (2010).
The review comprised:
It found that:
The report makes 50 recommendations for consideration by the SRA, SDT and Law Society.
Professor John said: “I hope this review will help to deepen the SRA’s understanding and encourage it to review its approach to regulation. The issues that arise are not intrinsically connected to the ethnicity of BME practitioners themselves, but relate more directly to their structural location in the legal services marketplace, in the profession and in society generally.
“My expectation is that the SRA will examine the report, its findings and recommendations and identify the implications it has for its practices, policies and procedures, so that such assessment can feed in to its response to the report. There are also recommendations for others, such as the Law Society and other representative groups, as to how they can contribute to addressing the disproportionality which exists and support BME solicitors in providing access to justice for, typically, vulnerable communities.”
Paul Philip, SRA Chief Executive, added: “I am grateful to Gus John for taking such a thorough approach, and for his analysis and insight. Disproportionality of outcomes for BME lawyers is, unfortunately, not confined to regulatory outcomes. The report identifies that there is not a simple, single, cause of this disproportionality and, similarly, there is not a single, simple, solution. Therefore addressing the issue will need the help and engagement of a wide range of individuals and organisations.
“Building on the previous body of work on this subject, we now have a better understanding of the challenges we, and others, face. We will take a short period of time to consider this comprehensive report, and use that time to engage and discuss these issues with a range of interested individuals and organisations. Our aim is to provide a full, public, response by the end of May.”
The full report can be accessed here.
Photo (home): “london 16082008-66” by Walwyn (Flickr – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)