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Social mobility moving up the agenda at law firms and blue chips

A new initiative spearheaded by Slaughter & May has attempted to try and solve the age-old problem of barriers to the legal profession for those from diverse backgrounds. While initiatives such as blind CV interviews may have gone some way toward solving the unconscious bias problems, there are still large numbers of very bright individuals who will simply self-deselect based on their backgrounds. 

This new initiative which was piloted over the summer saw organisations such as Yahoo and ITV team up with city law firms to offer work experience placements to sixth-form students from London schools. Placements included time in both law firms and within the in-house legal departments of technology and media firms. The idea was that students would be able to see themselves in either a blue chip or a law firm and appreciate the types of jobs on offer without feeling that they simply wouldn’t be considered. The aim is to break down both social and psychological barriers and ultimately encourage a more diverse workforce for the legal sector.

But will this truly make a difference or is it merely a PR exercise? While Prime guidelines expect a commitment from both professional firms and in-house legal departments to offer social mobility work experience, will they be a true attempt to change the workforce – or simply a tick box on a CSR policy? Let us know what you think.

Hayley Rose is a Director in the Legal division of Harvey John

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