I Think I Can: How Self-Efficacy and Self-Regulation Impacts Black and Latinx Bar Examinees

This study examined experiences of bar exam takers of color who passed on either the first or the second time. The theories of self-efficacy and self-regulation served as a conceptual framework for this study and were used to shape the interview questions as well as the data analysis. Eight participants were interviewed who graduated from law school within the last five years, passed the bar exam on either the first or second time, and identified as Black or Latinx. Through analysis of the participants’ interviews, nine themes emerged. Participants who passed on the first time overcame academic insecurity early on, were mindful of study strategies that worked, and found support.

Participants who passed on the second attempt were isolated in studying and experienced outside distractions, but when taking the exam the second time, found their familiarity with the bar exam relieved stress. Finally, both groups found balance in studying, were aware of their ethnic and racial background, and experienced nervousness and anxiety during the exam. Each of these findings had implications for the participants’ self-efficacy and self-regulation while preparing for and taking the bar exam.

Erin Lain, I Think I Can: How Self-Efficacy and Self-Regulation Impacts Black and Latinx Bar Examinees, 10 Ind. J.L. & Soc. Equal. 113 (2022).

Read the full article here. (PDF)

Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales publishes first ethnicity pay gap report

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has published its first ethnicity pay gap report. The ethnicity pay gap shows the difference between the mean or median hourly pay received by White staff and staff from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background, employed at the regulator.

Around nine out of ten staff disclosed their ethnicity, with 66 per cent of the workforce being White and 26 per cent from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds.

The 2021 report shows that the mean pay gap is 21.5 per cent, and the median pay gap – which is the difference between the midpoint in the ranges – is 15 per cent. The gap is driven by a higher proportion of White staff in more senior positions (88 per cent of the upper pay quartile).

Read the full article here.

Law Council of Australia’s 2016 policy to improve equity in the profession hits milestone

The Law Council of Australia’s 2016 policy to improve equity in the legal profession has achieved its central aim. The Equitable Briefing Policy 2016 aimed to have female barristers receive  instructions in 30% of all matters by 1st July 2020. A recent report states this goal has been achieved, with 31% of all instructions going to female barristers.

Overall, the 2019-2020 reporting period found that of the 32,995 total briefs, 31%  (10,291) of these briefs went to female barristers and 69% (22,704) went to male barristers. This has exceeded the final target of the Policy by one percentage point and represents an increase of four percentage points from the previous reporting year.

“Female junior barristers were briefed at an even higher rate, receiving 37 per cent of briefs,” said Mr Liveris, Law Council of Australia President.

Read the full story here.

Supporting the health and wellbeing of Black attorneys in Illinois

The Commission highlighted the long-held stigma of seeking help for mental health, as well as the daily microaggressions, the residual affects of intergenerational trauma and overt acts of racism as being unique stressors for Black attorneys.

Dr. Arline Geronimus coined the term “weathering effect” to evoke the emotional erosion that comes with the constant stress of racism. Geronimus,  a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health compares weathering to Jenga, with a stressor being the equivalent of pulling one block out at a time.

After some time, so many blocks that are essential to a person’s health and well-being have been removed leading the tower to  collapse. Research has shown that stress can lead to premature biological aging and  worse health outcomes for Black people than their White counterparts.

Read the full story here.

The National Association of Law Placement in the USA has reported diversity to be at an all time high

On 12 January 2022 the National Association of Law Placement released its annual Report on Diversity in US Law Firms. The report announced significant gains in the diversity of new entrants into the legal profession in 2021.

Summer associates showed the highest level of diversity amongst all groups of lawyers, with people of colour growing by almost 5%, the largest increase in 29 years of NALP data . Women made up more than half of all summer associates for the fourth year in a row. Additionally, the proportion of LGBTQ summer associates increased to 8.41%, the highest representation ever measured by NALP. 

However, the data shows that these groups are still underrepresented at partner and other associate levels, especially women of colour, who account for less than 5% of partners across firms nationally.

Read the article here.

First generation lawyers find fewer jobs than peers

New data from the National Association of Law Placement, in the US, suggests first generation lawyers have a harder time securing a job than their peers. First generation US lawyers, who don’t have at least one parent with a bachelors degree find securing a job after graduation much harder than their peers a study has found. NALPs data also suggests this cohort is likely to earn less than their peers and less likely to secure high flying private practice jobs.

Moreover, first-generation students are often racial minorities, pointing to a diversity issue in the legal pipeline as these are less likely to get jobs at the top firms. “A higher percentage of graduates of color were reported as first-generation college students, and distressingly we continue to see that the lowest overall employment rates were measured for Black and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander law school graduates,” James Leipold, NALP’s Executive Director, said in a press release.

Read the full story here.

Solicitors Regulation Authority of England and Wales publishes latest annual reports

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has published its suite of annual reports, which cover five core topics, these are: ‘Anti-money Laundering‘, ‘Authorisation‘, ‘Client Protection‘, ‘Education and Training‘ and ‘Upholding Professional Standards‘.

Key findings from the reports include:

  • There has been a year-on-year increase in the number of solicitors qualifying through apprenticeships, firms offering recognised training and solicitors gaining higher rights of audience qualifications.
  • There is further evidence of continued growth of the legal sector in Wales, with Welsh firms now accounting for a combined turnover of over £435 million, up from £370 million five years ago.
  • £10.4 million was paid out from the Compensation Fund, up £2.9 million from 2018/19, with the average payout around £28,000.
  • The Upholding Professional Standards Report, includes a review of the diversity characteristics of solicitors involved in the SRA’s enforcement processes. It has been found that as was the case in a similar analysis published last year, there is an over-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors, and men, in both concerns raised and investigated with the SRA when compared with the diversity of the profession as a whole. Based on this the SRA are currently commissioning independent research into the societal and structural factors that might be driving the over-representation in reports made to us, as well as reviewing our own decision making and working to improve diversity data collection.

Anna Bradley, Chair of the SRA Board, has said: “Publishing this suite of annual reviews is an important part of our ongoing commitment to transparency and accountability. Last year was difficult for everyone, and I’m pleased that our reports show that both we and the profession rose to the challenge, adapting to new ways of working, maintaining performance and services and showing real resilience in the face of the pandemic. Since we published our last set of reviews, we have made significant progress in many areas, not least the work now well underway to understand and address what may lie behind the overrepresentation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors, and men, in our enforcement processes. Our 2019/20 Upholding Professional Standards report again confirms the historic trends we have already seen and reaffirms how important it is that we continue to push on with this work as quickly as possible.”

Access the full suite of reports here. 

Bar Standards Board of England and Wales publishes new statistics on the outcomes of complaints about barristers

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published a new statistical analysis examining the outcomes of complaints made about barristers in England and Wales between January 2015 and October 2019. The research was particularly focused on investigating the relationship between the outcomes of, and the likelihood of a complaint being made, and specific characteristics of barristers, particularly gender and ethnicity.

Within the analysis, the BSB has divided the complaints into two categories “internal complaints” (complaints raised by the BSB based on information received from sources, such as self-reports of potential professional misconduct; referrals from other departments of the BSB; referrals from other regulators; judicial criticisms; and public/media coverage of barristers’ behaviour) and “external complaints” (complaints raised by members of the public, legal professionals or other external sources, who wished to make a formal complaint about a barrister).

Key findings from the analysis include:

  • Male barristers who were the subject of a complaint were around 2.1 times more likely to have their case referred for disciplinary action compared with female barristers ;
  • Male barristers were around 1.3 times more likely than female barristers to be subject to an “internal complaint”;
  • Compared to White barristers, barristers from minority ethnic backgrounds were found to be around 1.7 times more likely to be subject to an “internal complaint” compared with White barristers;

Commenting on the findings, BSB Director of Legal and Enforcement, Sara Jagger, said:

“This report illustrates our commitment to transparency in the way in which we deal with reports about barristers’ conduct. Our decision making is regularly reviewed to ensure that it is of a high quality and free from bias and it is essential that we keep monitoring these issues. Our decision-making processes have changed significantly since the period covered by this report and later this year, we will be reviewing the impact of those changes on the outcomes for barristers with different diversity characteristics.”

Read more and access the report on the BSB’s website. 

Australia, Ireland, Scotland and England and Wales Bar publish new diversity and admissions data

New reports on admissions and diversity in the legal profession have been released by the Australian Conference of Law Societies, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority of Ireland (LSRA), the Law Society of Scotland and the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales.

Australia

The 2020 National Profile of Solicitors in Australia, produced on behalf of the Conference of Law Societies, an organisation that represents the different law societies from across the Australian territories, show that there are now 83,643 solicitors practising in Australia, an increase of 26,066 solicitors since 2011, representing a 45% increase. The report also shows that women now make up 53% of solicitors across the country, up from 46% in 2011.

The report has also found that there has been a 59% increase in practice in those aged 65 or older, with the average age being 42 years old, and that in  2020, 632 solicitors identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait islander, representing 0.8% of all solicitors in Australia. Since 2014, this trend has remained relatively stable. The report also shows that the majority of solicitors operate in private practice, however corporate legal has been the most rapidly growing area.

Access the Australian report here. 

Ireland 

On the 30th of June, the LSRA published its second annual admissions report entitled ‘Pathways to the Professions 2020: Annual Report on Admission Policies of the Legal Professions’.

The key findings of the report include:

  • 906 solicitors were admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in 2020, a 62% decrease on 2019
  • The “Brexit-effect” whereby UK qualified lawyers qualify into Ireland has begun to subside. The number of England and Wales-qualified solicitors entering the Roll, has dropped to 443 compared to 1,838 in 2019 (this may partly be due to saturation and partly due to changes to the admission policy requiring England and Wales qualified solicitors to demonstrate an intention to practice in Ireland)
  • A total of 11,854 solicitors held Irish practising certificates on 31 December 2020, a decrease of 105 from 2019
  • A total of 167 barristers were called to the Bar of Ireland in 2020, this is down 14% from 190 in 2019.
  • Of the 167 barristers admitted to practise in the year, 116 were graduates of the King’s Inns Barrister-at-Law degree course. The total also includes 47 barristers admitted having obtained their professional qualifications in England and Wales or Northern Ireland.

Access the LSRA’s report here. 

Scotland

Diversity data collected as part of the annual Practising Certificate (PC) renewal process has been published by the Law Society of Scotland. Diversity questions were included for the first time in the 2020/21 PC renewal process, with around 80% of respondents providing a response to diversity questions. Respondents were asked about their ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, and social background, including the type of school they mainly attended and what their parents’ occupation was.

Key findings include:

  • The Scottish legal profession is getting more ethnically diverse, although more slowly than the wider population. Just over 88% of the profession is white, with at least 3.38% of the profession coming from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background.
  • Almost 7% of solicitors aged under 30 come from a BAME background.
  • Around two-thirds of newly admitted members were female.
  • 3.2% of the profession is LGBTQ+.
  • 4.8% of the profession has a disability, such as blindness, deafness or a mobility impairment.

Access the Law Society of  Scotland’s report here. 

Barristers in England and Wales

The BSB has published the seventh and final annual edition of its statistical information relating to student performance on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC). The report uses data from students from the 2019-2020 academic year, as well as the preceding two academic years. The report includes information on the demographics and results of those who enrolled on the BPTC, as well as the success rates of those seeking a pupillage after the course.

Key findings include:

  • 18% fewer of the students who enrolled in 2019-20 completed the course compared to the year before and the of the UK  and EU graduates in the same period 10% began a pupillage in 2020-21 compared to 23% in the 2018-19 cohort, reflecting a 35% fall in pupillage places. This drop may be partially related to COVID-19 as well as Brexit.
  • 1,685 students enrolled on the BPTC in 2019-20, a decrease of 68 students compared to 2018-19.
  • 46% of students 46% who enrolled on the BPTC in 2019-20 were overseas (non-UK/EU) domiciled,
  • Female BPTC students increased from 52.3% in 2011-12 to 57.8% in 2019-20
  • of the 95% who provided information on their ethnicity, the percentage of UK/EU domiciled students from a minority ethnic group was 35% in 2019-20. This was down by around five percentage points compared to 2018-19,  and was at the lowest level since 2015-16;

As well as this the report found that  39.5% of UK/EU students who enrolled on the course from 2015 to 2019 had started a pupillage by March 2021 of these 55% were female, and when controlling for academic and BPTC results found that those from a white background were more likely to commence a pupillage, with 41% of white students starting a pupillage compared with 23% of those from a minority background.

Read the BSB’s full report here. 

American Bar Association publishes new data on minorities and bar pass rates

New data published by the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, has suggested that White test-takers were more likely to pass the bar exam in 2020 than test-takers of other races and ethnicities.  Within the grouping of those who identified as White men and women, 88% passed the Bar examination the first time. By comparison, 66% of Black first-time test-takers passed, 76% of Hispanics, 78% of Hawaiians, 78% of Native Americans and 80% of Asians. The report, which was released on the 22nd of June, includes data from 2020 and 2021 aggregated from across all 197 ABA-accredited law schools, broken down into nine different ethnicity categories. 

Under ABA rules bar passage results influence the “ultimate” pass rate. This is a measure of success in the bar examinations over a two-year period. Under 2019 revisions to the bar passage rule known as Standard 316, ABA-approved law schools must have 75% of their graduates who take the bar examination pass it within two years of graduation or face the potential of being found out of compliance.

The ultimate pass rate was higher for all ethnic categories than the rate for first-time takers. For 2019 graduates, for instance, white law graduates posted a 91% ultimate pass rate, and rates for other categories ranged upward from 75% based on 2020 and 2021 data.

Bill Adams, ABA managing director of accreditation and legal education, said that “During discussions on changes to Standard 316 concerns were expressed over the lack of national data on bar passage by members of different racial and ethnic groups. We promised to collect and publish such aggregate data and consider whether the requirements of the standard needed to be reconsidered in light of what we collected,” he said. “This report is consistent with that promise and will be further evaluated in the months to come.”

Read the full report here