Law firms hire from the most limited university pool, research finds

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And they spend the most amount of money in the process


Law firms recruit graduates from, typically, only 19 different universities compared to accountancy and other professional services firms which recruit from around 50 universities, according to a recent survey.

Moreover, firms spend on average £6,811 per hire compared with the average graduate hire-spend of £3,383.


The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) report — which surveys 208 employers in the United Kingdom from 17 different sectors — also shows that law firms are among those employers which visit the least number of universities during the recruitment process. Law firms typically visit 17 universities, only marginally more than investment banking firms which visit only 12 institutions.

There may be a logical explanation for this, however, as AGR’s chief executive, Stephen Isherwood, tells Legal Cheek:

Unlike other sectors in the UK, law firms recruit from all disciplines. This means they are are more likely to target their marketing efforts at certain universities rather than just recruiting by discipline.

Isherwood says that the headline figure of 19 universities from which firms hire is an average so that larger firms may well be recruiting from 30 or 40 different universities.

The report also highlights the ever-growing use of video interviews as part of the recruitment experience, including by law firms. Around 42% of firms surveyed currently use Skype or other video-based interviews.


The report quotes one law firm which lists a number of benefits of video interviewing including flexibility and time-saving but also says that it ticks the diversity box:

[Video-interviewing] increases the number of candidates we take through from application form stage and thus increases the diversity of individuals who we see.


UKC Student

Personally I don’t see the fuss about some firms selecting certain universities to visit. If they know the reputation, they know the quality of the graduates then so be it.

I don’t go to a university where we get all of the Magic and Silver Circle, and most prestigious US firms coming to us (in fact none of the latter visit us and only one SC firm visits us) but it’s completely understandable.

It’s an incentive for students like myself to work harder and be proactive in our research by actually visiting the firms on open days, talks, etc.



Elite Personal Injury firms regularly visit Bradford, Leeds Met and Oxford Brookes Campuses.

I wouldn’t worry – there will always be jobs.



And long may it continue! It’s accepted practice for the best law firms and chambers to recruit the best graduates: they can hardly be blamed for wanting the most academically gifted.



To the Oxford law grad, most academically gifted or most privelleged?


Qualified and Entertained

The fact that you can’t spell privileged pretty much proves his point… and is the reason we don’t bother outside the norm.



You haven’t covered discrimination yet then



Please get off your high horse. If you’ve been fortunate to have passed through school with a wealth of private education, on-going mentoring and industry insight due to your personal connections. It is no surprise that you went to Oxford.

Some students who may be naturally gifted, perhaps more intelligent and capable than you may not go to Oxford because they did not have the same opportunities as you.



Cry me a river



Just a couple of reasons why it might seem there are a limited number of universities represented compared to other sectors:

1) Many firms still have a AAB minimum academic requirement. That already limits the talent pool they can recruit from considerably, and that talent will be found in much stronger concentrations in particular universities. Other sectors don’t have such a strict limit.

2) The average of 17 universities does not take into account how many graduate positions there are in the first place. In this survey, law firm vacancies counted for only 5.4% of the total number of graduate opportunities (1240 vacancies) and yet counted for over 20% of the respondents who completed the survey (41 firms). So the average firm in this survey only had 30 training contracts. 17 universities represented on average by an intake of 30 people is actually better than the ratios in some other sectors (eg: Accountancy – 50 universities hired from, average of 434 vacancies per firm).


Not Amused

This is not a diversity issue.

UK universities are NOT equal. So trying to pretend they are is dishonest. Either campaign to make all universities equal (by implementing national teaching standards and national exams) or stop beating this dishonest and manipulative leftie drum.

Employers need to ensure the kids they hire from universities are diverse. Diversity of the university itself is utterly irrelevant and ultimately more likely to benefit dim rich children who can afford to risk getting a degree from a bad university.



All the time the “top” universities continue to have a disportionate amount of privately educated students, as well low UK SEB and BAME populations, then diversity in the professions will not be achieved. More needs to be done by those universities to make sure they are more truly representative and diverse. They all claim to have great initiatives, but the figures speak for themselves and they need to do better. All the time they don’t, “lesser” universities will continue to be targeted by firms who truly care about diversity in their graduate recruits.


Chancery tenant

Have to agree here. And in any event, last time I checked the portion of ALL the major BME categories in the legal profession are essentially proportionate to their representation in the wider population (and in some cases slightly over-represented). There are 762 Black practicing barristers* (6.3% of the profession) when the overall population is some 2.5 million (5.01%). That is not to say there is *no* problem with diversity, but it is simply not true that an effect of recruiting from these Universities has limited ethnic diversity (although conversations should be had about how this plays out when considering practice areas- although statistics do not seem to be available).

It is easy to get carried away with how “multicultural” the UK appears to be from the obsessed media, but in reality the UK is really quite a homogeneous country with 88% of the population being white. It is therefore no surprise that (drum roll) about 80% of the profession is white.

It is not a diversity issue. There are certain skills required to be a Solicitor or Barrister. The profession has primarily chosen academic attainment (and therefore University Type) to gauge this. This is good- an almost entirely objective and merit-based standard. I think it would be a shame for diversity if we returned to the old days of “personality” and “connections” – where Firms hired those they liked socially or those who “had connections”.

It also is about the fact that the profession exists for its clients. It does not exist to provide people with opportunities, or to fulfill “dreams”. Many. many students seem to think that they are owed something by the profession – that Firms exist to give them a TC. At the end of the day they have to consider who is likely to have the qualities necessary to provide excellent service, quality work and billable hours. Good attainment at a good University demonstrates that you have a competitive edge and are used to focus and hard work. Attendance at a University where the entrance requirements are CCC does not.

Would we criticise Accountancy Firms for frowning upon a C in A-Level Maths? No. Attainment on many law degrees at less respectable Universities is not comparable to those at better Universities. Why would it be? The group of Students, all with AAA- A*A*A*A*A* will do better than the group with CCD.

*(does not include Pupils, those not practicing, or Silks).


Fat B'stard




🎼 I wanna live for-ever!🎤



Nice article, Botty!





Lord Lyle of Paleanthropy

A logically conflicting post from N.A.
If universities are not equal, can we ex hypothesise that humans are not equal?



The problem is that as top firms have such a high profile presence on campus at top Unis, the perception is that there are many more jobs available than is the case. The pressure students put on themselves to secure a job in these top firms, which are so hard to achieve, can lead to real feelings of failure as students fail to live up to their own and others’ expectations. More students should consider Training Contracts with SMEs and look to regional firms as a plan B- or even paralegal work as a way in- or broadening out their career ideas and using their skills in another context. The skills they gain from the degree will be valuable whether they progress into Law or another profession.



There’s definitely an element of truth in this. I graduated without a TC from a top university/did vacation schemes at top firms, but didn’t secure the TC.

At the moment, I feel like a failure.. It’s definitely not healthy to compare yourself to your peers, but it’s hard not to..I live in London and paralegal work seems notoriously hard to get with a requirement of the LPC/secured TC.

I don’t really know what I’m doing with myself atm.. feel like I’ll need to get a job in retail, but not sure how recruiters will view this.. Also, thinking of volunteering abroad.

I think people struggle to cut their losses and look at other sectors, but I’ve begun to realise there’s lot of rewarding work out there..



My advice to you is either:
a) Apply for TCs outside of London, maybe in the home counties where you can commute to so you don’t have to explain why Liverpool/Birmingham/Newcastle. If you can get into firms in these cities then go for it, but they will need you to justify why you want to relocate. In a few years post qualification you can move to London in most areas.
b) Get a commercial job in industry. Contracts analyst, procurement advisor or supply chain, hr advisor etc.



Good god who the hell cares…?



In other news…the sky is blue.



If you are recruiting into the high finance area of society, you need someone who is going to carve a middle class niche for themselves out of the circumstances they see. The children of parents who have done this are the safest bet, and you will find them, firstly, at boarding schools, secondly, at day schools and then – to fill up the numbers required to service your clients – anywhere else where you think you can find this sort of people.

Contrast this cohort with Che Guevara.

As a medical student he travels and he sees the influence of the US mining and farming combines in South America, he researches and finds the influence of men with CIA links on their boards of directors, and he sees with his own eyes how the native workers are poorly rewarded so that the board can make high profits.

It spurs him to trying to revive the most radical and humane intellectual ideas known to mankind at the time. “The Revolutionary is motivated by Love” – and he sets his aristocratic skills – medicine, soldiery, leadership, confident speech to the weal of trying to change the world.

Now, I say this, because your middle class recruit in a Magic Circle or US firm would be thrilled to have one of these combines and the CIA as his client – it would be a professional rising thermal that would give him or her all the material goods, house and school fees needed to perpetuate himself – and he would act accordingly….He would likely say, behind the backs of the workers – “Cry me a River” and guffaw behind his hand with his friends. All this, even though he or she has all the skills Che had.

I would suggest that Che’s reaction to all this is a sane one, made assertive enough to become revolutionary because of the strong grip that the middle class lifestyle asserts over the mind of those who (a) live in a gilded cage (b) are fed thoughts that lead them to rate themselves as exceptional, rather than deficient


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