70% had health issues, the single most prevalent of which was poor mental health.
52% of the solicitor beneficiaries were either sole practitioners or had worked for small firms. 19% were from larger or City firms. SBA’s most senior solicitor beneficiary was admitted in 1948. The most recent applied to SBA for help within three months of their admission ceremony.
69% of all beneficiaries were of working age. The average age of people approaching SBA for the first time was 46. The youngest SBA beneficiary was 24, the eldest, 101.
The gender split across all beneficiaries was 60% female: 40% male. 85% were current or former solicitors, with 15% their dependants (usually solicitors’ widows or former spouses).
19% identified as black, Asian and minority ethnic. Figures split between Asian lawyers (6%) and African, African-Caribbean & Black British lawyers (10%), with ‘Other’ at 3%.
29% were new applicants. The remainder were either already in receipt of funds or had received help at some point in the past.
26% of beneficiaries lived in London. Figures contrast with the Law Society’s Annual Statistics Report (2016), which shows practising solicitors in London as 43%. SBA was well represented in the South West (15%), North West (13%) and East (9%).
SBA beneficiaries were drawn from diverse practice areas. Other than ‘generalist’ practitioners, criminal and family law practitioners were best represented; together they comprised one fifth of all those who were offered support.
Total awards were £1,443,211, an increase of 24% on the previous year. There was a significant rise in the amount offered in the form of interest-free (secured) loans, which rose from £393,054 in 2016 to £620,428 in 2017. In many cases, such loans were offered to those experiencing acute levels of personal debt.
Christl Hughes, Chair of SBA’s Board of Trustees, said, “The charity may be best known for supporting older solicitors and their dependants but the majority of our beneficiaries continue to be people of working age.”