Herbert Smith Freehills and Ashurst latest to jump on contextual recruiting bandwagon

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By Jonathan Ames on

Both City law firms adopt diversity tool after informally assessing recruits using the metrics system for last year


Two more City law firms have jumped on the “contextual recruitment” bandwagon in what is now looking like the beginning of a craze as global players vie to be seen as socially diverse employers.

Anglo-Australian mega-practice Herbert Smith Freehills and top-UK-15 firm Ashurst announced today they would adopt a state-of-the-art recruitment tool known as the contextual recruitment system.

In doing so, they follow the London office of global giant Baker & McKenzie and transatlantic heavyweight Hogan Lovells. Those two announced a fortnight ago that they would be the first English legal practices to take the full plunge with the system.

According to its developers, the recruitment tool — offered by London-based diversity specialist business Rare — “hardwires social mobility metrics into firms’ existing graduate recruitment applicant tracking systems”.

That, said Rare, enables “recruiters to quickly, quantitatively and consistently measure the social mobility characteristics of all applicants and thus identify those stand-out candidates regardless of their background”.

Announcing his firm’s move, Herbies’ head of resourcing, Peter Chater, explained that the practice had been informally using contextual data on for the last year.

“In that time, it’s really proved its value,” he said. “We’re excited about having it available for all candidates for the next recruitment season.”

Ashurst also said it had been trialling the system since last year. Emma Young, the firm’s global head of graduates, said that of 11 recent hires, “seven had contextual data markers of one sort or another… the data helped us to see how totally exceptional certain applicants were – and helped us make sure we did not miss them”.

Ashurst’s graduate recruitment partner, Hammad Akhtar, added:

“We’re really seeing a difference in terms of who is coming through to interview. We’re seeing people that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”


Two City firms launch sci-fi recruitment tool in bid to boost diversity [Legal Cheek]