The legal professions and the judiciary are infected by "systemic bias" against women and ethnic minorities, an independent report into the appointment of judges and QCs found.
Many practices reflect values of the past and represent cultural obstacles to lawyers who do not fit the perceived "mould" of a QC or senior judge.
The Judicial Appointments Commission upheld seven complaints by judicial applicants and one lawyer who had applied for silk. Four were rejected and one is being considered.
During investigations commissioners said they "built up a picture of systemic bias in the way the judiciary and legal professions operate."
They said many women barristers and solicitors had been pushed out because of non-family friendly practices, and there was a "gravitation" of ethnic minority lawyers to the Government Legal Service and Crown Prosecution Service.
The Government promised to reform the system. But the commission said this may not be enough and called for a study of all judicial offices.
The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, said: "The Government is committed to opening up the system, and attracting candidates from a wider range of backgrounds."Reuse content