The focus of this paper is upon the educational background of academic lawyers in England and Wales and the extent to which qualifications from certain institutions may be seen as acting as a proxy for social class. In recent years higher educational background and socio-economic background have been significant topics of research relating to entry to the legal professions and judiciary in England and Wales. There is a relative absence of such research relating to academic lawyers. The research discussed in this paper aims to close that gap. The paper argues that critiques relating to the elite nature of the traditional legal professions in terms of educational background have parallels within the academic legal community, evidenced by a dominance of those educated at Cambridge, Oxford and other Russell Group institutions, with relatively lower proportions of graduates from other sectors, most notably the post-1992 universities. The paper further argues that economic hurdles to entry to an academic legal career are significantly higher than those for other law related careers, potentially exacerbating issues of socio-economic exclusion. The conclusion drawn is that law schools should engage proactively with measures to expand opportunities for entrants into the academic legal community from candidates from a much wider range of educational backgrounds.
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