Linklaters contributes to new report aimed at increasing socio-economic diversity in the legal sector

Linklaters, in collaboration with seven global law firms, has worked with the Bridge Group, a charitable socio-economic policy association, to produce the first ever study on the correlation between background characteristics and early career progression in the legal profession.

The research includes the analysis of data relating to over 2,800 early career professionals and interviews from Linklaters, Pinsent Masons, Allen & Overy, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, Dentons, Hogan Lovells, Holman Fenwick Willian. It aims to drive a shift in mindset and boost engagement within firms to increase socio-economic diversity in the sector.

While many drivers of diversity such as access to higher education and unequal progress are societal, the report shows there are still factors within leading law firms that contribute to unequal progression across different socio-economic backgrounds. This is primarily rooted in the way firms look at talent and how work is allocated.

At Linklaters, creating a diverse and inclusive culture is part of our refreshed strategy and in doing so we aim to create a work environment where our people have fair and equal opportunities to unlock their potential. We have implemented a number of measures to improve our socio-economic diversity in the UK and are always looking at new ways to drive progress around this issue.

Some of the initiatives we have launched and seen great success with include:

  • Employment skills-focused programmes, workshops and work experience placements for pupils at target schools locally
  • Mentoring opportunities for young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds involving Linklaters employees
  • Residential programmes for high performing 16-18-year-olds and university-age pupils from all over the UK
  • Being the first Magic Circle firm to commit to using a sophisticated Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) to ensure we consider applicants from a wide variety of socio-economic backgrounds
  • Introducing our Diverse Voices Reverse Mentoring scheme in which the mentees (members of our Partnership Board) are mentored by Linklaters employees from under-represented groups, including social mobility, with the aim of building their awareness and understanding of different people’s perspectives and experiences
  • Sharing stories of individuals from diverse backgrounds to educate, raise awareness and foster understanding, as part of our Global Diversity Week
  • Linklaters has been ranked #11 in the Top 50 employers in the Social Mobility Employer Index 2018, moving up nine places since last year.

Nathalie Hobbs, Executive Partner Champion for social mobility said:

“It’s promising to see leading law firms coming together to address this issue. We are committed to widening access to the legal profession and increasing the social diversity of our firm, targeting social mobility candidates at the early stage of their career. However, this report shows there is still more we can do to create a more inclusive culture to help talent from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds thrive, and I look forward to continuing our efforts in this area.”

Social mobility is a key part of our Global Diversity and Inclusion strategy. Our objective is to increase the social diversity of our firm, targeting social mobility candidates at the recruitment stage and earlier, and to create a more inclusive culture where talent from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds is actively nurtured, retained and progressed. We will be holding internal focus groups to help us gain greater understanding into what this research means for Linklaters and will use these insights to inform our approach to social mobility going forwards.