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City law firms dominate first ever social mobility employer index

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MoJ and Inner Temple also recognised for their endeavours to help disadvantaged young people

A plethora of City law firms have featured on what is believed to be the first ever social mobility index.

The new top 50 list is produced by the Social Mobility Foundation and the Social Mobility Commission. It ranks UK employers in accordance with the practices and procedures they are implementing to ensure they are open to accessing employee talent from all backgrounds.

Unveiled this morning, the inaugural 2017 index features a host of big legal players.

Finishing in eighth position, the accolade of highest ranking law firm went to Berwin Leighton Paisner. Other outfits to make the top 20 were Baker McKenzie (11th), Pinsent Masons (15th), Burges Salmon (17th) and magic circle duo Clifford Chance (19th) and Linklaters (20th).

Elsewhere on this year’s list, Herbert Smith Freehills secured 25th position, while Hogan Lovells and Simmons & Simmons finished 26th and 27th respectively. Sitting just below them was Eversheds Sutherland (29th) and national outfit Freeths (32nd).

The other firms recognised for their social mobility endeavours were Scottish outfit Brodies (39th), Holman Fenwick Willan (43rd), DLA Piper (46th), Charles Russell Speechlys (48th) and Stephenson Harwood (50th).

Two legal institutions that are not law firms also made the cut. The Ministry of Justice — now headed up by new Lord Chancellor David Lidington — finished an impressive 14th, while The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple landed 35th.

Rankings aside, the charity-backed study included some interesting statistics.

For example, 96% of the nearly 100 organisations who were considered for the rankings said that as part of their recruitment policy they would accept degrees from any university. However, 61% of successful applicants attended a Russell Group institution (despite making up just 42% of applications). Meanwhile, Oxford and Cambridge — popular among the City law elite — are visited more often by graduate recruiters than 118 other UK universities combined.

David Johnston, chief executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:

All the top 50 firms in the Social Mobility Employer Index should be applauded for the progress they are making towards ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get in and get on — regardless of their background. While no one firm has cracked the issue and there is still progress to be made, they should be congratulated both for having prioritised social mobility and for being prepared to have their processes and practices independently scrutinised.

Accounting and consultancy specialists Grant Thornton was named social mobility employer of the year.

Social Mobility Employer Index 2017 (Firms and law-related organisations only)

Overall ranking Firm
8 Berwin Leighton Paisner
11 Baker McKenzie
14 Ministry of Justice
15 Pinsent Masons
17 Burges Salmon
19 Clifford Chance
20 Linklaters
25 Herbert Smith Freehills
26 Hogan Lovells
27 Simmons & Simmons
29 Eversheds Sutherland
32 Freeths
35 The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple
39 Brodies
43 Holman Fenwick Willan
46 DLA Piper
48 Charles Russell Speechlys
50 Stephenson Harwood

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