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High Net Worth 2021 trends in gender representation across England and Wales

Chambers High Net Worth continues to promote diversity and inclusion within the legal market. Read more to see our latest insights into gender diversity across private client practices in London, England and Wales. 

Published on 19 August 2021
Written by Katherine Hughes and Simon Christian
Simon Christian
Katherine Hughes

Covid-19 has changed the way many of us work, with a shift towards home working and flexible working. It has also led many to reassess their own environment, with one in seven Londoners looking to leave the city due to the pandemic, as reported by the London Assembly Housing Committee.

Chambers High Net Worth covers trends within the private client market, including the sector’s drive to improve gender diversity. Given the reported intention of many to move out of London, we investigated the differences in gender diversity between private client practices in London and the rest of England & Wales. 

The national picture in England & Wales

Data from the Law Society of England & Wales shows that 52% of solicitors holding a current practising certificate are women. However, women are statistically over-represented in in-house roles, according to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. In-house practitioners make up around 20% of total solicitor roles, so it must be assumed that the proportion of women in private practice is slightly less than the headline figure of 52%.

We do not currently have data for solicitors that do not identify within the gender binary, but welcome disclosure of this information and hope to include this data in future analysis. 

Gender diversity in private client law firms

The SRA data also shows that 54% of lawyers in “firms mainly handling private client work” were women. This includes the full range of practices, from domestic- and consumer-focused law firms to boutique practices specialising in international private wealth. 

In Chambers High Net Worth, we are focused on high-asset work for HNWIs and international ultra-wealthy clients. Rankings data for the Private Wealth Law and Private Wealth Disputes categories in England & Wales (private client advisory and contentious trusts and probate respectively) shows that women are just as well represented in private client when the focus is purely on the High Net Worth/ultra-wealthy market. 

Gender diversity in Chambers High Net Worth 2021

The breakdown of rankings in Chambers High Net Worth 2021 for England and Wales solicitors is almost exactly 50/50 between men and women. Interestingly, the London tables skew this average; in London, the ratio is 45% women to 55% men. Subtracting the London rankings from the overall England and Wales total gives a ranking split that almost exactly mirrors the 54% women/46% men figure given by the SRA for solicitors practising in firms which mainly handle private client work. 

Non-contentious private client advisory work in London is a particularly strong outlier, with just 42% of ranked lawyers being women compared with 50% nationally and 54% for non-contentious private client practitioners outside London. Women made up 52% of ranked lawyers in Private Wealth Disputes work, both in London and nationally. 

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Analysing leading providers of Ultra High Net Worth services

Chambers High Net Worth covers, in unmatched depth and with unparalleled accuracy, the leading lawyers, accountants, bankers, fiduciaries and wealth managers working for the global ultra-wealthy. Our dedicated High Net Worth research team conducted more than 10,000 interviews with leading players in worldwide private wealth for the 2021 guide alone, and these interviewees’ insights form the backbone of our market-leading rankings and commentary.

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