The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2023

Essential reading for all those pursuing a legal career, the Handbook should be your ultimate guide to the various paths into the profession, offering in-depth advice and insights into what it takes to become a lawyer.


HAND 2023




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Paul Philip Chief executive of the Solicitors Regulation Authority

Mark Fenhalls QC Chair of the Bar Council

Welcome to The LawCareers.Net Handbook.

Being a barrister is a hugely enjoyable and rewarding career. No two days are the same, and the job entails meeting people from all walks of life. Barristers are specialist legal advisors who help individuals and organisations understand, exercise and defend their legal rights. The Bar in England and Wales has a reputation that’s recognised and respected around the world. Choosing a career as a barrister involves tenacity and hard work. In exchange the job offers real fulfilment. It combines intellectual challenge, persuasion and the opportunity to help people who need specialist advice and help.

Wherever your career in law takes you, we want to make sure that those entering the solicitor profession have reached the high standards that everyone expects. After a decade of preparation, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), a single, rigorous assessment for all aspiring solicitors, is now a reality. The first two assessments have gone well – with more than a thousand people taking them across 26 countries. What does this mean for you? You need a degree or equivalent, to meet our character and suitability requirements, to complete two years’ qualifying work experience and, of course, to pass the assessments themselves. The SQE gives you real choice about your training. For example, you might choose a solicitor apprenticeship, or a law degree and then get that important work experience, or perhaps you’re a paralegal and see the SQE as a great opportunity to become a solicitor. Our Career in Law Facebook or Instagram accounts can help inform your choices. And if you’ve started your training journey last year, you may still have a choice to qualify either through the Legal Practice Course or SQE.

Pupillage (training) provides aspiring barristers with the practical skills and

experience needed to become a barrister. The pupillage application process is highly competitive, but we’re doing all that we can to attract and encourage the best candidates from the widest possible pool of talent. Good luck to all of you who are applying for pupillage. I hope you’ll enjoy a career in this wonderful profession, as I have.

I wish you all the best in your training.



Becoming a lawyer

Work experience

Postgraduate training


Training contract directory


Pupillage directory

Useful information




How to use this book Solicitor versus barrister

Commercial awareness Application technique Interview technique


29 33 36 40 42

10 13 14 21 24 27 50 55 58

Career timetable The legal scene

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Diversity in the legal profession

Alternative careers

Choosing where to apply

Key skills


Work experience

LawWorks (the Solicitors Pro Bono Group)

Free Representation Unit

Vacation Scheme Insider reports



Postgraduate training


Financing the vocational courses


Course directory



103  The Law Society 105 The Solicitors Regulation Authority 108  CILEX (The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives) 111 Becoming a solicitor 114 Career timetable: solicitors 118 Types of law firm 160 How to use the training contract regional indexes and directory 161 Training contract regional indexes 229 Training contract directory 366 The Bar Council of England and Wales 369 The Bar Standards Board 371  The Bar Council’s Young Barristers’ Committee 374 Becoming a barrister 376 Career timetable: barristers 378 Types of chambers 420 How to use the pupillage index and directory 421 Pupillage index 433 Pupillage directory

121 Solicitors’ Practice Area Profiles



381  Barristers’ Practice Area Profiles



480 Glossary 486 Useful addresses



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Becoming a lawyer

How to use this book


Solicitor versus barrister

10 13 14 21 24 27 29 33 36 40 42

Career timetable The legal scene

Diversity in the legal profession

Choosing where to apply

Key skills

Commercial awareness Application technique Interview technique

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Alternative careers



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How to use this book

• Which postgraduate courses will you have to take? • Which bodies regulate and represent lawyers? • Why are vacation schemes and mini- pupillages so important? Stage 2: Getting up to speed Once you’ve clearly established what needs to be done, you must maintain an upward learning curve by regularly immersing yourself in the legal world and behaving, in effect, like a ‘mini lawyer’. You should read information provided specifically for aspiring lawyers such as LawCareers.Net’s newsletter, LCN Weekly, but also keep up with the professional legal press (eg, The Lawyer and The Law Society Gazette ), the national and international business press (eg, the Financial Times and The Economist ) and specialist websites such as In doing so, you’ll begin to recognise the key news, themes and debates within the profession, see how the different parts of the law relate to each other and identify leading figures and organisations. Check out ‘The legal scene’ in The Handbook as a starting point; your goal is to be sufficiently well informed that you could hold your own in a conversation among lawyers and engage in topics such as: • What are the major developments in the legal profession over the past year? • Have there been any major law firm mergers recently? • What are employers doing to improve diversity within the profession? • How will solicitors qualify through the new Solicitors Qualifying Exam? • How have legal aid cuts affected access to justice? • What issues are likely to impact the industry over the coming years? Stage 3: Analyse yourself Your investigations into the basics of the law and ongoing contact with the profession should already have given you a good

The LawCareers.Net Handbook ( The Handbook ) is designed to be your companion and adviser throughout your journey to becoming a solicitor or barrister. It’s important you use it correctly to get the maximum benefit. You’re embarking on a learning process: learning what lawyers do and the different types of law they practise; learning about the different types of organisations involved in law; learning how to become a lawyer and – possibly most importantly – learning about yourself, what you have to offer the profession and how to sell your skills and personality to employers. We advise you to divide your research and planning into stages. If you complete each stage in order, you should have the knowledge and understanding required to make an impact when it comes to recruitment and selection. You should also remember that you must continually top up your expertise – it’s much easier to learn steadily and gradually than try to cram in everything at the last minute. Stage 1: The basics A solid base of knowledge is important. Without this, your appreciation of your choices and opportunities will be severely diminished. The ‘Becoming a lawyer’ section of The Handbook introduces you to the core challenges ahead of you, while the ‘Solicitors’ and ‘Barristers’ sections explore the two main branches of the profession in more detail. Once you’ve done this preparatory reading, you should be able to answer the following questions with confidence: • What are the differences between a solicitor and a barrister? • What are the other types of lawyer? • What are the different types of law firm and who do they serve? • What are the different types of practice area? • How is a set of chambers organised? • What’s the timetable for becoming a solicitor/barrister?


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How to use this book

then need to look at the organisations’ own websites, explore legal press archives and do some online research. Key questions to research are: • What are their main work areas? • Who are their clients? • How do they make money? • What’s their ethos? • Who are their competitors? • Where have they come from and where are they going (ie, history versus ambition)? What now? The rest of The Handbook expands on many of these themes. The sooner you start using it in earnest – understanding the challenge ahead, making a plan and acting on it – the better your chances. Most candidates who are unsuccessful fail because they haven’t followed the rules of the game. Take the necessary steps to give yourself the best chance of success. As ever, we wish you all the very best with your legal career and hope that The Handbook can help you along the way.

idea of the attributes that employers are looking for. The exact skill set may vary, but you can be sure you’ll be expected to be intelligent and able to communicate well, show determination, possess close attention to detail and operate well as part of a team. You need to review your experiences to pull out as many examples of these skills as possible and work out how to present them in the best possible light – employers like to see examples of go-getting, passionate, motivated people doing something constructive and interesting with their time. Read ‘Application technique’ and ‘Interview technique’ for more advice and use LawCareers.Net’s MyLCN dashboard to build up your record of achievements and activities. Things to consider are as follows: • Can you give a dozen detailed examples of activities you’ve participated in that demonstrate skills relevant to working in the legal profession? • Can you explain articulately why you want to be a lawyer? • What are the weaknesses in your CV that you hope employers won’t spot and what are you doing to address them? • What’s your unique selling point? Stage 4: Narrowing the field We’re only now getting to the stage of differentiating between employers. The Handbook offers comprehensive listings of more than 800 firms and nearly 200 chambers offering training contracts or pupillages. You can’t apply to them all, so you must refine your search – read ‘Types of law firm’, ‘Types of chambers’ and ‘Choosing where to apply’ as a start. Use the indexing pages to identify firms/chambers by size, practice areas and location. Ideally, you should be able to find a market sector you’re interested in (eg, leading commercial firms in Northwest England) and work out which firms/chambers fall into this classification. Their directory entries in The Handbook are your springboard for further research. You



Remember that you don’t need to read this book cover to cover to get maximum benefit from it – it all depends on what path you choose, either before you open The Handbook or as you read it. This diagram illustrates the basic process of using The Handbook , from initial research to applying for a job – although don’t forget that any specific information you need that isn’t covered by the chapters mentioned elsewhere in the diagram is likely to be in the more specialist chapters of the book. The colour scheme is the same as the colours used to separate each section of The Handbook .

First steps Learn about the legal profession and identify the career you want:

• Solicitor versus barrister (page 10) • Alternative careers (page 42) • The legal scene (page 14) • Becoming a solicitor (page 111) • The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (page 108) • Becoming a barrister (page 374)

Research Find out more about the qualifications and work experience you’ll need for your chosen profession, and learn about different careers available within it:

• Career timetable (page 13) • Work experience (whole section) • Postgraduate training (whole section) • Solicitors’ Practice Area Profiles (page 121) • Types of law firm (page 118) • Barristers’ Practice Area Profiles (page 381) • Types of chambers (page 378)

Launching your career Use The Handbook for details of how to apply for the right training contract or pupillage for you:

• Choosing where to apply (page 24) • Application technique (page 33) • Interview technique (page 36) • Training contract directory (whole section) • Pupillage directory (whole section)


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Solicitor versus barrister

training. For this reason, they may be more highly valued by firms of solicitors who will have clear and rigid structures for their employees. Sports Participating in sport implies drive, teamwork and communication skills, which are ideal for both solicitors and barristers. Acting/performing These are highly relevant skills for both branches of the profession. Whether you’re a solicitor or barrister, you’ll be in the business

One of the most fundamental questions you must address when considering a career in the law is whether to become a solicitor or barrister. To put it simply, barristers appear in court, while solicitors work in law firms. However, the differences are much more complex than that. Some say that it comes down to whether you’re an individualist (barrister) or a team player (solicitor). While it’s true that a barrister is almost always self-employed and bound to other barristers only by convenience, and a solicitor may be just one worker in a law firm of thousands of people, in reality the situation is not so black and white. Barristers are often involved in teamwork and some solicitors may spend many hours on their own drafting documents.

of persuading people, and conveying information and ideas. However, the

courtroom side of a barrister’s work is a direct application of these attributes, so the Bar may value them slightly higher. Commercial/business knowledge Whatever you do in the law, you’ll at some level be involved in running a business – be it as part of a huge firm or as a self-employed person in sole practice or at the Bar. Further, you’ll often be working to assist the businesses of others. Firms of solicitors provide not only legal advice, but are also employed as business advisers with an eye on overall strategy. Barristers are more typically ‘hired hands’ for advocacy or for preparing highly specific legal opinions, but those at the commercial Bar must still appreciate and prioritise the business interests of their clients when preparing to advocate on their behalf. Legal work experience At trainee or pupil level, nobody expects you to know the law inside out. What they do expect is for you to have a relatively sophisticated grasp of the profession, its activities and its rhythms, as a way of showing that you have thought sensibly about why you want to become a lawyer. One of the best ways of doing this is to find a law (or law-related) environment in which you can learn what it’s all about.

Here’s a general guide to some factors that may help you to decide.

Academic performance Fantastic academic results are the ideal underpinnings of every legal career. You’ll generally find a close correlation between the best academic scores and the best (or at least the best-paying) jobs in the legal profession. That said, contextual recruitment practices are becoming more common place to avoid unconscious bias in this area and more, so don’t be put off. Excellent academic results may be slightly more important for the Bar, as it’s smaller and consequently even more selective. The Bar is also rather more weighted towards the traditional universities, to which the Oxbridge-heavy tenant lists at many chambers attest (although the Bar is working to address this bias). Positions of responsibility Having been the head prefect or leader of a youth group is an impressive achievement whichever strand you choose. However, positions of responsibility are often concerned with keeping hierarchies in order and thus could be described as management



Eloquence As we saw above, the ability to communicate is the fundamental tool of the trade. The better you are at communicating, the better a lawyer you’ll be. Again, the fact that a barrister must regularly stand up and talk in court means that this skill is more important at the Bar but it’s still a key part of practising as a solicitor. Sociability The law is a sociable profession in which you can expect to meet large numbers of people from all walks of life. Crucially, you must be able to get on with your clients and other lawyers with whom you work. The legal community is intimate and sometimes close-knit; it helps to be able to get on and interact well with others. Self-reliance You’ll need a fair amount of self-reliance and self-belief whatever you do in law. Solicitors generally have a more definite career structure, but after a certain point it becomes dog eat dog at many firms. As a barrister, though, you’re literally on your own: it’s your career and you’ve got to make it happen, make the most of it and deal with the quiet times. If you’re somebody who craves structure and order, then think again. Intellectual curiosity In reality, the area of law in which you end up will be the greatest driver of the intellectual content of your work. However, if you want to be a serious analyst and provider of opinions on heavyweight points of law, then the Bar may be for you. Finances Quite clearly, it’s right and proper that a career in the law should be available to all.

That said, the relevant course fees (especially at postgraduate level) mean that it’s not uncommon for individuals to end up with debts of well over £45,000. Before you rack up this kind of bill, be realistic about your job prospects. And don’t forget that upcoming changes to the way solicitors and barristers qualify will affect the costs of pursuing this career. There’s more on that in the ‘Postgraduate training’ section. Enthusiasm for dressing up Do you like wearing gowns and wigs? Do you feel that panto should be staged all year round? The Bar values tradition above virtually any other calling and the recognisable outfits reflect this. Solicitors’ dress is much more standard work wear, with some firms opting for a ‘dress for your day’ policy.

Commitment to social justice There remain many commendable

organisations and individuals in the legal profession who work tirelessly to overturn injustice and ensure that right prevails. Many will be involved in something socially useful (ie, pro bono). If changing the world and helping people’s lives is at the core of your desire to become a lawyer you’ll probably want to consider the barrister route and do some thorough research into areas such as human rights and criminal law. Further reading Solicitors – Barristers – In these sections you can read about the day-to-day life and work of solicitors and barristers at various firms and chambers.

Reality check: The decision as to which strand suits you best rests on a number of factors concerning your abilities, temperament and – dare we say it – financial circumstances. Choose wisely.


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Solicitor versus barrister

This table illustrates some of the differences between the two branches of the profession, including demographics, working environments, career progression and salary.

Solicitors As of May 2022, there were 156,055 practising solicitors. The total number of solicitors on the roll was 215,567. Women make up 52% of all solicitors and partners in law firms. But there are many more men than women at partner level – on average, a large firm has 65-70% male partners and only 30-35% women. People from ethnic minority backgrounds make up 17% of all solicitors. Mostly employed in private law firms, so receive a regular monthly salary. Work mainly with individuals, companies and barristers. Office-based. Engage more in ongoing advisory and one-to-one client work. Aspire to become a partner (ie, part ownership of firm and entitlement to a percentage of its profits). While there’s no longer a minimum annual trainee salary, the average UK salary for a first-year trainee is around £27,500, while City firms can sometimes pay considerably more – anywhere from £35,000 upwards.

Barristers In 2021, there were 17,263 practising barristers. Of those, 13,622 were self- employed. Around 38% of all practising barristers are women (ie, 6,624 women compared to 10,437 men). People from ethnic minority backgrounds make up 14.5% of all practising barristers (ie, 2,506). Mostly self-employed, so receive irregular (but often substantial) fees. Work mainly with solicitors and other barristers. Chambers and court-based. Engage more in one-off advocacy (ie, court cases). Aspire to become Queen’s Counsel or QC (ie, a top barrister, normally instructed in very serious and complex cases). The Bar Standards Board requires that all pupils be paid no less than £19,144 per annum in London and £17,152 outside of London. Many earn much more – upwards of £50,000 in some cases.



Career timetable

There are many different types of lawyer and paths into the legal profession. Use the diagram below to plot your route into law.



Intermediate apprenticeship

A level

Non-law degree

Law degree

Paralegal apprenticeship

Law conversion (optional for SQE cohort)

Solicitor apprenticeship

Various CILEX routes

Bar course




Chartered legal executive




Further reading For more on the solicitors’ career timetable, see page 114. For more on the barristers’ career timetable, see page 376. For more on the chartered legal executive timetable, see page 108. For more on legal apprenticeships, pick up a copy of The Law Apprenticeships Guide . Change ahead: the Solicitors Qualifying Examination Anyone who started an undergraduate degree after Autumn 2021 will have to take the Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE), a new two-stage assessment that must be passed to qualify as a solicitor, in addition to two years’ qualifying work experience. The SQE replaces the Legal Practice Course and also means that a law degree or Graduate Diploma in Law are no longer compulsory – although in reality you’ll need either an LLB, law conversion or other preparation course to pass the new exams. For more information, read the ‘SRA chapter’ on page 105 and visit the SQE hub on LawCareers.Net.


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The legal scene

While covid-19 worsened the existing problem, at the heart of the access to justice issue is funding – or lack thereof. In early 2020 the government proposed to inject an extra £32 to £50 million into criminal legal aid funding, but the Law Society stated that this wouldn’t be enough to alleviate the threat to “the very existence of criminal defence practitioners”. Meanwhile, in late 2021 the criminal legal aid review was published and proposed a minimum increase of 15% in legal aid fees. This was again rejected by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) who requested a 25% rise instead. Responding to the ongoing disputes over legal aid funding, criminal barristers initiated strike action starting at the end of June 2022 lasting four weeks. Members of the CBA have been increasing their days of striking by an extra day each week, with plans to stage five-day walkouts every other week if no deal is agreed with the government. This strike action will continue to cause further delays to court hearings. As of July 2022, there’s a backlog of 58,653 outstanding cases in crown courts, a 42% rise on pre-pandemic levels, according to data revealed by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), with fears that the backlog could reach around 70,000 in August 2022. After the first week of strike action, the MoJ revealed that it plans to fast-track legislation that’ll see barristers receive increased legal aid fees at a faster rate. It confirmed that barristers will receive a 15% fee rise from the end of September 2022, while criminal solicitors will also see a 15% fee rise for their work in police stations, magistrates’ and youth courts. However, the CBA continues to call for a 25% increase to make up for years of underfunding. It was also recently announced that the MoJ and the government will work together to provide additional support to those navigating the legal system, including: • an increased £4 million funding to help vulnerable people in civil and family legal disputes;

This chapter examines the key issues facing the UK legal profession that future lawyers should be aware of, as well as headline- grabbing cases and mergers. Lawyers interact with companies, national and local government, institutions and individuals in almost every area of life, so it’s no surprise that wider economic and political issues affecting their clients often have a knock-on effect on their work. Of these, six key issues are currently pressurising the sector and driving profession-wide change in various ways. They can be divided into: • external factors – access to justice and legal aid, tech and innovation, the war in Ukraine, and Brexit; and • internal issues – diversity and inclusion in the profession, and changes to training for solicitors and barristers. While the lasting impacts of covid-19 can be felt across the profession, it’s important to take a step back and consider other key issues that have been affecting the legal sector over the past year. Access to justice and legal aid Access to justice is an ongoing concern following years of financial cuts in the legal aid sector. Over the past couple of years, courts have adapted to hearings taking place remotely, or instead being postponed in light of covid-19. Delays to hearings coupled with court closures means that the already overwhelming backlog of cases has been exacerbated and remains a serious issue. According to the most recent Legal Needs Survey, it’s estimated that 3.6 million people a year in England and Wales “fail to have their legal needs met in resolving a dispute”. In addition, two-thirds of the UK population don’t know how to access legal aid and there are 14 million people living in poverty who are unable to afford it, according to The Access to Justice Foundation.



Of the 900 law firms that took part in this research, 87% use video conferencing technology, 66% use cloud storage and 50% use practice management software, with 90% of firms saying that their increased use of technology will continue in a post-covid world. In terms of legal-specific technology, 37% of respondents say they currently use it, while 24% say they plan to use it soon. Of the sector-specific technology, the most common technology include online portals for matter updates, interactive websites to generate legal documents and chatbots or virtual assistants. Meanwhile, improving service quality (72%), improving efficiency (71%), and allowing staff to work more flexibly (44%) were among the main reasons firms cited for using new technologies. Not all firms are using or implementing these practices, so what’s stopping them? A lack of in-house skills and uncertainty over business benefits are among the reasons. However, one of the biggest barriers is cost, with more than half of firm respondents reporting affordability to be the main obstacle, “or more specifically a lack of spare financial capital to invest in such areas”, according to the SRA’s summary report. Other cited barriers include a need for greater clarity and guidance from the SRA on regulatory issues, such as client confidentiality and data protection requirements. In addition, according to the research, firms working in employment and family law were less likely to make use of technology compared to those working in conveyancing. Meanwhile, firms established in the past five years and those working with large corporate clients were among the firms most likely to innovate. Benefits can be seen among firms that have adapted trainee roles to embrace technology. Junior solicitors and trainees have traditionally drafted simple contracts and reviewed documents, but this type of work is becoming increasingly automated.

• focus on early intervention to resolve issues before going to court; and • proposals that’ll see an extra two million people eligible for legal aid. Clearly action is being taken, but it remains to be seen whether this is enough to reignite the public’s trust in the fairness of the legal system – for both those who use the system, and those who work in it. Tech and innovation As defined by the Law Society, ‘lawtech’ is the term used to “describe technologies that aim to support, supplement or replace traditional methods for delivering legal services, or that improve the way the justice system operates”. It might include implementing document automation, advanced chatbots or smart legal contracts to increase efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and improve access to legal services for the public, among other benefits. While law firms aren’t (yet) overrun with robots, advances in AI and automation will continue to create new revolutionary possibilities, and challenges, for the legal profession over the coming years. More recently, we saw law firms transition to remote working in light of covid-19 to ensure they could continue delivering high- quality services to clients, but ‘lawtech’ is so much more than that. The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) research with the University of Oxford Technology and Innovation in Legal Services looked at “current and potential innovation, and adoption of technology within the legal sector”. The research set out to not only increase understanding of lawtech, but to also identify how the sector can be supported in implementing these changes. “Supporting lawtech and innovation, especially that which improves access to justice for all” is one of the SRA’s three core objectives within its 2020-2023 corporate strategy.


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The legal scene

it intends to close its Moscow office. Allen & Overy LLP, Clifford Chance and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner are among other firms to confirm plans to stop operating in Russia’s capital. However, many firms are facing ethical dilemmas as they make efforts to break away. It’s worth continuing to follow the impact of the war in Ukraine, not only on the geopolitical landscape of the world, but also on businesses and the economy. Brexit As of 1 January 2021, several changes came into effect impacting solicitors in England and Wales with clients in the EU. According to the Law Society, they’re “now subject to 31 different regulatory regimes, one for each jurisdiction”. With freedom of movement terminated in the EU, new rules have been introduced to control how solicitors can cross the border to each EU member state, European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland. Those interested in working in the law should be engaged with Brexit and its impact over the months and years ahead. This will involve analysing its ongoing effect on the business and legal worlds, and more specifically understanding the aspects that could affect your shortlisted firms, their clients and particular practice areas. Britain might now be out of the EU, but the full consequences and impact of Brexit remains to be seen. Diversity in the profession Looking inwards, the legal profession is still nowhere near as diverse or as accessible as it should be, although important progress has been (and is being) made. Ethnicity Of solicitors and partners in England and Wales, around 17% and 16%, respectively, are from an ethnic minority background, according to the SRA’s latest statistics. At firms with 50 or more partners, only 8%

Now, trainees are more likely to manage the process of referring the initial document review to a third party that does the work at a lower cost, undertaking a secondary review of the document later. It’s likely that trainees will be interacting more with AI in the future. Management skills and an understanding of technology – and how to resolve technical problems – are increasingly important to showcase in both an interview and training contract. Russia sanctions Since the invasion of Ukraine, the UK has imposed a number of sanctions on Russia – the “sanctions regime is aimed at encouraging Russia to cease actions destabilising Ukraine or undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine”, according to the UK government. The SRA states that the current financial sanctions restrict “law firms from providing services or access to financial markets, funds or economic resources to listed entities or ships without a licence”. As a result, it’s crucial that law firms remain up to date on these sanctions and their impact on their operations. Many firms were also quick to review their client lists in response to the conflict, forcing some Russian litigants with cases at London’s High Court to look elsewhere for representation. The SRA has made it clear that firms can choose their clients and said that it’s unlikely to become a regulatory matter: “The general position is that firms can choose who they act for, and can choose not to act for any reason (unless unlawful, for example under equalities legislation)”. As many organisations, including retailers like H&M, revealed plans to stop trading in Russia, so too did law firms. White & Case LLP announced that it would be closing its office in Moscow, while Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, which said it planned to terminate its relationship with Russian clients, also said



According to the BSB’s Diversity at the Bar report, as of December 2021 women make up 38% of the Bar, with the number of women QCs increasing year on year, from 16.8% to 17.9%. At pupillage level, 56.6% of pupils are women and 43.4% are men. Another gendered issue is unequal work allocation. The BSB has produced tools to assist chambers in the monitoring of work allocation as part of its equality and diversity rules handbook. Disability The number of people working in law firms who reported a disability is only 5% – this figure remains the same when looking solely at lawyers in law firms, which, according to the SRA, is still significantly lower than the UK workforce. Just 4% of partners said they have a disability. In firms with 10 to 50 partners, 6% of lawyers reported a disability, while firms with 50+ partners have a lower proportion of disabled lawyers at 4%. Improving inclusivity and accessibility for disabled lawyers is crucial, and the past few years have proven that agile working practices could be a stepping stone to a more accessible profession. According to the Legally Disabled? survey of 100 disabled lawyers conducted in 2020, 70% of those surveyed said they would prefer to work remotely in the long term due to the many health and wellbeing benefits it offers. However, respondents also warned that “one size does not fit all” and “it should not be assumed that all disabled employees would prefer to work from home”. Meanwhile, at the Bar, the BSB reported a 3.4% increase from 2020 to 2021 of pupils who have a disability. Including respondents who didn’t provide information, the BSB found that 4% of the Bar, 4.3% of pupils, 4.2% of non- QC barristers and 2% of QCs had reported a disability as of December 2021. These figures

are from an ethnic minority background. Meanwhile, at the Bar just over 14% of practising barristers and only 9.6% of Queen’s Counsel (QC) are from ethnic minority backgrounds, according to the Bar Standards Board (BSB), with ethnic minority candidates making up just 19.8% of pupils. Research by the BSB relating to students enrolled on the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) (the old vocational stage of training for the Bar) from 2011/12 to 2019/20, shows that 77% of white candidates with a first-class degree and an ‘outstanding’ BPTC grade secured pupillage, compared with 65% of candidates from an ethnic minority background with the same grades. In addition, a Bar Council report published in 2021 highlights that on average Black women barristers earn around £19,000 less per annum than their White male counterparts, and Black male barrister salaries are more than £15,000 less than the average White junior barrister. Despite petitions calling for mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, the UK’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities is yet to make this a legal requirement. Gender Women make up just over half of practising solicitors, but only 35% of partners in private practice. According to the Law Society’s analysis of 41 law firms’ gender pay gap reporting from 2017 and 2020, on average women in the largest law firms earn one-fifth less than men. The Law Society’s analysis demonstrates that of the law firms reporting for 2017 and 2020, 28 saw a decrease in mean gender pay gap (based on hourly pay), while 12 experienced an increase and one firm experienced no change. In addition, while a similar number of men and women received bonuses, men received bonuses that were of higher value, with the average gap between bonus value being 39.4% in 2020.


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Looking forward It’s clear there remains a lack of diversity within the industry across the various diversity strands, including the ones mentioned above, as well as socio-economic background, religion and belief, caring responsibilities, neurodiversity and age. This is a fundamental issue that must be addressed if the profession aims to attract the best talent and offer the best services. Head to LawCareers.Net’s Diversity hub, sponsored by Gowling WLG (UK) LLP, for regular updates to keep you in the know regarding what law firms, chambers and legal education providers are doing to remove existing barriers and work towards a more diverse and inclusive profession. Changes to solicitor and barrister training Whether you aim to become a solicitor or barrister, your route to qualifying is changing. For aspiring solicitors, in September 2021 the Solicitors Qualifying Exam was introduced and will gradually replace the Legal Practice Course. Meanwhile, budding barristers can now take new, cheaper Bar courses instead of the BPTC. Discover more about the changes in the ‘Postgraduate training’, ‘Solicitors Regulation Authority’ and ‘Bar Standards Board’ chapters. Mergers In 2021, UK law firm mergers dropped to a 10-year low, with only 99 mergers completed (a 7% fall on 2020’s figure), according to a legal update from Hazlewoods. As expected, the slowdown in the number of law firm mergers was blamed on the pandemic, despite some firms experiencing their “best financial results in the last 10 years”. Some notable recent mergers include: • Clyde & Co LLP and BLM agreed to merge following votes by their partnerships. The merger has been predicted to make a global revenue of more than £700 million per year, making it the 12th largest firm in the UK. BLM will become part of Clyde & Co’s insurance practice.

demonstrate just how much more work the profession still needs to do to ensure that law firms and chambers are inclusive and accessible for disabled candidates. Sexual orientation and gender identity Just 3.5% of lawyers identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual – 2.5% identify as lesbian or gay and 1% are bisexual. This figure drops to 2.3% in firms with one partner, while at larger firms with 10 and 50+ partners, the figure is slightly higher at around 4%. Meanwhile, 2.8% of partners identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual and 8.2% said they prefer not to declare their sexual orientation. The SRA also highlighted that 1% of solicitors, reported that they had a different gender identity to the one assigned at birth – this is down from 1.9% in 2019. In firms with 50+ partners, 2.4% of lawyers have a gender identity different from their sex registered at birth. The SRA supported the InterLaw Diversity Forum in creating an LGBTQ+ Factsheet that outlines key findings from the 2021 report, including research that demonstrates the negative experiences of LGBTQ+ employees as a result of their sexual orientation; bullying and harassment towards lesbian, gay, bi, trans and non-binary people is evident. According to the SRA, “LGBTQ+ lawyers who are not ‘out’ in the workplace are more likely to leave their job and many are still not comfortable with bringing their full selves to work”. Meanwhile, while the response rate for the gender identity and sexual orientation categories in the BSB report increased from last year, the response rate for gender identity was still only 44.7% compared with 99.7% for gender. The latest report demonstrates that, excluding those who didn’t provide information, more than 11.5% of pupils, 7.3% of non-QC barristers and 5.7% of QCs identified as either a bisexual, gay man, lesbian or other (not including heterosexual).



Tarantino’s screenplay, not Tarantino himself. Norton Rose Fulbright explains that the case “highlights the fact that NFTs, while uniquely intangible, are not exempt from the same intellectual property restrictions placed on traditionally tangible goods”. It’s likely that as more cases arise, the legal and regulatory issues under question will be clarified, so this space is definitely worth watching! Net zero Warmer weather, grass fires and rising sea levels are among some of the issues caused by climate change. It’s a conversation that’s been ongoing for years now, but what are the recent legal developments you should be aware of? Net zero refers to the “cutting of greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere, by oceans and forests for instance”, according to the United Nations. To get to net zero requires a “complete transformation of how we produce, consume, and move about”. In a recent landmark ruling, the High Court ordered the government to outline its specific plans for achieving its net-zero emission targets, following allegations from environment groups, including Friends of the Earth and the Good Law Project, that the government had failed to include its exact policies on reaching these targets. Mr Justice Holgate states that the government didn’t meet its obligations under the Climate Change Act 2008, ordering the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to prepare a report by 2023 explaining how the policies in the government’s net-zero strategy will work towards reducing emissions. Brexit trade deals Issues to do with the UK’s exit from the EU continue. Most notably in recent months is

• Shakespeare Martineau LLP bought Bristol- based firm GL Law in May, adding more than £4.5 million to the group’s turnover and a further 60 people to its team.

• Knights Plc completed two mergers, acquiring Langleys Solicitors LLP in

January as part of an £11.5 million deal and South East firm Coffin Mew LLP in May for the same amount. • In July, Womble Bond Dickinson completed its acquisition of San Francisco-based firm Cooper, White & Cooper, with the expansion coming into effect from 1 September 2022. Legal developments – talking points NFTs Non-fungible token (NFT) is one of those phrases that’s somehow already found its way into our day-to-day vocabulary. The popularity of NFTs is constantly growing and the legal implications surrounding them are becoming increasingly important. Business Insider defines an NFT as “a digital asset that links ownership to unique physical or digital items, such as works of art, real estate, music or videos”. It acts as proof of ownership of various types of asset and has its own unique, identifying characteristics. There’s lots to learn about NFTs and how they work, including the ‘minting’ process, which refers to the process of converting a digital file into a blockchain-based NFT. But what legal and regulatory issues should you be aware of when discussing NFTs? Are NFTs recognised as property? How should NFTs be treated when it comes to tax? Do the IP rights attached to the NFT transfer to the NFT owner? In a recent Commercial Question on LawCareers.Net, Norton Rose Fulbright considers whether NFTs are exempt from IP restrictions placed on tangible goods following director Quentin Tarantino’s decision to auction excerpts from the original handwritten screenplay of Pulp Fiction as NFTs. Production company Miramax alleged that it actually owns the rights to the film and


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The legal scene

the two supermarkets reaching a consensus over the IP rights of M&S’s Colin the Caterpillar cake. ‘Shape of You’ More than £900,000 in legal fees were awarded to Ed Sheeran and the co-writers of his hit song ‘Shape of You’, following copyright allegations that were deemed “baseless”. A High Court judge had previously ruled that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” ripped off a hook with his “Oh I” section in ‘Shape of You’ from a 2015 track called ‘Oh Why’ by Sami Switch. It’s since been ruled that songwriters Switch and Ross O’Donoghue, the claimants, should pay the £916,200 in legal fees – an amount that’s due to be assessed and finalised at another hearing. Copyright infringement cases in the music industry are likely to continue finding their way into court, which begs the question raised by a DWF Group Plc trainee in a recent Commercial Question on LawCareers.Net – is it inspiration or appropriation? Wagatha Christie A celebrity libel case involving Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy hit the headlines in 2019-20, after Rooney alleged that leaked details from her private Instagram account came from “Rebekah Vardy’s account”. After three years of legal arguments between the pair, on 29 July 2022 the High Court ruled that Vardy was in fact involved in a series of stories that were leaked to the tabloid media. The ruling comes after Vardy sued Rooney for publicly accusing her of leaking the stories to The Sun . However, in July 2022, Mrs Justice Steyn found that evidence demonstrated that Vardy “knew of, condoned and actively engaged” in the details being passed to The Sun . It was ruled that Vardy’s agent at the time Caroline Watt was the one “likely” to have undertaken “the direct act” of leaking the information.

the legal action brought against the UK by the EU for its enforcement of post-Brexit trading rules in Northern Ireland. The UK has been accused of failing to apply customs and tax rules that are part of the 2019 exit agreement, as well as for failing to administer full border checks for goods arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain. At the time of writing, there are total of four legal cases against the UK relating to the Northern Ireland protocol. Major cases Here’s a very small sample of the many important and fascinating cases heard in UK courts in 2021-22. Use them as a starting point for your own research, and don’t forget to follow the stories you’re interested in as they develop. P&O Ferries At the end of March 2022, P&O Ferries dismissed 768 workers via video message on what would be their final day of employment. Two and a half weeks’ pay for each year of service, in addition to six months’ pay, were offered to those facing dismissal. While the government didn’t take P&O Ferries to court, despite the firm admitting it broke the law in dismissing nearly 800 workers without notice, in April an ex-P&O Ferries chef filed a tribunal claim against the company for unfair dismissal, racial discrimination and harassment. The chef is seeking to sue the company for £76 million over the unfair dismissal of around 800 staff without notice earlier this year. Colin v Cuthbert Last year, M&S accused Aldi of infringing its Colin the Caterpillar trademark with the design and packaging of its Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake. M&S alleged that Aldi was riding the coat-tails of its reputation and requested that Aldi remove the product from sale. The dispute has since been settled with



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