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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Do the right thing TM

Hopefully we get a second election and a Corbyn government too, then we will start to see real change rather than just words and league tables where the best score is 0.1



I want a second EU referendum. Those who vote leave are forced to leave the UK.



Burges Salmon do not have any London-based staff, so hardly a City law firm.


All in the detail

They do send correspondence on some delicious paper. Shame about the verbal garbage written on it.



Try not to eat the paper as soon as it comes in mate


Sleepy lawyer

Lets be honest- all this shows is that social mobility isn’t taken seriously anywhere. Visiting Oxford and Cambridge more than all other universities combined, the over representation of Russel group universities (though this may have something to do with A-level grades I admit) and the lack of poorer and black solicitors in major firms all point one way.

Social mobility drives seems to help mainly middle class people educated at state schools, so regardless of where these firms rank- it’s frankly not good enough. It may not be entirely the firms fault, but they could undoubtedly improve. Simply by having statics on state school education, number of applicants that received free school meals etc would go a long way to identifying what the problems are, and how they can be addressed.



“the over representation of Russel group universities (though this may have something to do with A-level grades I admit)” Big of you to admit it. If A level grades are a proxy for intellectual ability, how can it be said that Russell Group universities (which demand higher A level grades) are “over-represented” in leading law firms?


Sleepy lawyer

Personally I don’t believe it, but law firms do seem to put a lot of weight behind how well you read a question and parrot and answer at 18.

Having said that, I think it can be. There are soft skills, experiences, etc which are lacking from certain Russel group graduates. Not to mention a first from a non-Russel group should outweigh a 2.1 from a Russel group if we’re going off grades alone, and I don’t believe this happens at higher level firms.

Though I admit to this part of the comment may be considered a stretch by some.



A first from Westminster should not outweigh a 2:1 from LSE.


Sleepy lawyer

Why not? What university you get into is based on your A-levels. Better grades at a higher level should outweigh the poorer earlier grades (particularity if it’s over a longer period of time).

Corbyn. Symphathiser

I find this argument compelling.


The under-representation of state schoolers is the ‘hidden’ or ‘taboo’ diversity topic.


You can't teach some things

Let’s be honest though, most state schoolers look scruffy and you wouldn’t exactly trust them to have good table etiquette if you were to invite them to a client dinner. I’m sure they can technically do the job itself, but it is the soft skills and levels of decency that they will never catch up on.


Sleepy lawyer

I can’t tell if this is trolling or an actual opinion. Either way, it’s idiotic.


You can't teach some things

So’s your mother, kind sir.


Sleepy lawyer

So trolling, carry on.


Butter my baps you LEGEND


shame my firm still hires so many white rich bois with house sigil rings and weekend holiday homes with an intense passion for rugby and cricket. none of the plebeian football fervour for them!


Proper person

Look what the cat dragged in



Well, they let you in didn’t they?


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