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Allen & Overy sets 35% ethnic minority target for trainees

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Magic circle firm also wants to retain more black NQs as part of wider diversity push

Allen & Overy’s London office

Allen & Overy (A&O) has today announced a series of diversity targets for its London office.

The magic circle firm aims to have 35% ethnic minority trainees, including 10% black trainees, each year. It also wants to equalise retention rates for trainees, with particular focus on retaining more black associates. The current trainee ethnic minority make-up is 31%.

A&O is also targeting a 15% ethnic minority partnership and 25% of the same for its lawyers and support staff by 2025. These are, respectively, 9%, 22% and 16% at present.

A&O is understood to have become the first major firm to reveal its ethnicity ‘stay gap’ — the duration ethnic lawyers stay at the firm compared to their white colleagues.

The analysis, which looks at differences in the average tenure of employees who have left the firm in the last five years, found that black, asian and minority ethnic (BAME) lawyers leave the firm seven months earlier than their white colleagues. Meanwhile, black lawyers leave two years and five months earlier than their white counterparts.

The firm has committed to publishing its updated ethnicity stay gap every year.

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A&O’s UK diversity and inclusion partner, Ian Field, said:

“We must all play our part in creating a truly inclusive workplace and for us that starts with accountability. The stay gap figure is an uncomfortable truth for us and the legal industry but it gives us an objective way to measure the success of our efforts in this area. We want to be clear that we recognise the problems within our own firm and are committed to tackling them head on.”

Earlier this month fellow magic circler Clifford Chance (CC) introduced its first-ever ethnic minority targets, among others. By 2025 CC wants 15% of partners and 30% of senior associates to be from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Also this month 17 City firms pledged to “identify and attack” career obstacles facing ethnic minority lawyers and why they fall behind their peers with a new “data-driven” approach.

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