The Legal Services Board has announced a proposal to quiz lawyers on whether their parents went to university in an attempt to monitor the level of social mobility across the profession.

These plans are part of a wide-reaching survey by the LSB into levels of diversity within law firms and chambers ahead of the implementation of the Equality Act, according to a Lawyer report. Information about where lawyers' parents went to university will be sought as a part of a series of questions about race, age, sexuality, religion and disability. And under these proposals law firms will be forced to publish the anonymous results of their diversity surveys.

  Some lawyers' dads yesterday

This focus on social background is by no means new - Addleshaw Goddard announced last year that it would be asking its applicants where they went to school and Herbert Smith has been doing the same for a while. But the LSB wants to introduce this kind of questioning on a much wider scale. Its line is that "transparency and greater clarity about the existing make-up of the profession will encourage more firms and chambers to take action to deliver diversity".

And the LSB may well have a point. If law firms know that they will be judged according to this data it may well prod them into taking more effective action to promote diversity. At the very least the new proposals are likely to stop any firms adopting Farrers' approach to recruitment where connections to the firm, having a working knowledge of Titian or being a "sweet" gal seem to impress (as long as you're not a bit brown).

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