Linklaters sets ‘aspirational’ 35% ethnic minority recruitment target for trainee solicitors

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Follows similar moves by A&O and HSF

Linklaters has unveiled a series of “aspirational” diversity targets as part of the magic circle player’s ongoing efforts to improve the representation of black and under-represented minority ethnic lawyers across its ranks.

​Starting from the 2020/21 recruitment cycle, the firm aims to have 35% ethnic minority trainees in the UK, including 10% black trainees, each year. The “aspirational” aim is slightly higher in the firm’s US offices — 50% minority ethnic first years, of whom 10% will be black.

Links is also targeting a 15% black and under-represented minority ethnic partnership both in the UK and US by 2025, and five times as many black partners globally by 2027.

The move comes just weeks after Allen & Overy (A&O) and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) unveiled similar diversity goals.

A&O aims to have 35% minority ethnic trainees, including 10% black trainees, each year, as well as to equalise retention rates for trainees, with particular focus on retaining more black associates. HSF, meanwhile, pledged the proportion of minority ethnic trainees retained as newly-qualified (NQ) lawyers will be at least the same as the proportion of minority ethnic trainees in each intake.

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Links also announced a raft of additional measures to create a more inclusive culture within the firm, including the formation of a ‘Black Diversity Council’ to hold the firm to account on progress; train staff on anti-racism over the next 12 months; and hold all partners and directors accountable for racial diversity in their practices and teams.

Charlie Jacobs, senior partner and senior champion for race & ethnicity at Linklaters, commented:

“As a firm, we pride ourselves on our values of respect, integrity and inclusion and we are calling on those values to stand against racism and champion equality. We must do better as a firm, industry and society to ensure greater representation of black and minority ethnic groups at all levels of business.”

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Surprise surprise, no targets for disabled trainees. How boringly predictable.



Talking of boringly predictable. Hi, Tim!



There’s social mobility initiatives like aspiring solicitors that help for that? You can’t just assume just because they have a target for a particular ethnic minority that they are shunning other underrepresented groups. Also equally firms can choose which target they want to focus on at a particular moment in time.



Send me a link then to these so called initiatives. Wait, you can’t, because disability is never on the agenda due to underlying institutional anti disabled views in the legal profession.

Your comment highlights the flaw in the system: choice. Why can’t the government force disability quotas on firms, to end this issue once and for all?



Umm… this assumes that talented “minority” candidates would actually touch you. All MC firms are the same. Optics for virtue signalling to keep up with the times, discarded once “diversity” statistics are met and can be published to market how “inclusive” your culture is. Vomit.



Crap degree and looking for excuses?



They want to have the same percentage of black trainees in London, where the local population is 3.4% black, as NYC, where it’s 24.3% black? Well that certainly seems logical and well thought out.

This also raises the interesting question, what is the catchment of a City law firm in order to decide these targets?

35% BAME is under represented still if you’re assuming most trainees are from London. But City firms deliberate target universities all over the country, presumably wanting candidates from all over the country, in which case it’s a significant over representation.

Do City law firms want to reflect London? South East England? The UK as a whole? They don’t seem to know.



They don’t know because they don’t care. It’s just the “diversity and inclusion” champion inventing numbers out of thin air to build their brand and then get back to billing. None of it evidences any research or real interest in a thought out inclusion strategy. It’s just: hit the target, make the numbers look good, championed! Racism solved. Standard across the City.



UK as a whole. Anything else is nonsense.



They recruit internationally because they work internationally.

Pegging any diversity targets to the ethnic makeup of the UK is a bit short sighted.



This is just marketing bullshit.



Ah, yes, another stompingly good initiative which will be a great boon for BAME candidate from wealthy backgrounds.

The problem is class. Clever working class kids from BAME backgrounds, as well as the white working class, are the ones who have the least resources to succeed in City law.

Yes, the law is insanely competitive for everyone but it’s more so if you come from a world where nobody you know even went to uni, let alone into a professional field. If firms truly cared about ‘diversity and inclusion’ then they would understand that the conversation is far more nuanced than simply slapping a ‘Let’s hire more BAME candidates’ sticker on everything without taking into account the intersections between class and ethnicity.


Fad alert

What about high performance culture? These are all just HR fads. Diversity and inclusion is just non-discrimination, not actual fairness and good ethics. The next fad should be ‘Virtue and transcendence’.



This is ridiculous. By over employing on the basis of irrelevant characteristics you exclude others with different but also irrelevant characteristics. The modern world is so shit.



As a ””’BAME””’ individual, I find it absurd that I have an inherent advantage over my white counterpart simply because of my image, despite the fact that we’re equally qualified and equally privileged. Ludicrous to think that this is meant to help race relations.



This is what happens when terrified White Middle-Class lawyers who think they are somehow racist live in leafy areas get together in a room and make irrational policies based on a supposed ideological commitment to racial equality.

Note to those partners and HR people. We BAMEs are not sheep. We don’t need targets and quotas. We can enter the profession based on merit. This actually puts me off applying to firms who have racial quota policies as it undermined my self-worth and creates a toxic environment where I would feel like I only got the job because of my immutable characteristic.

Message to City law firm: Stop being woke and focus on genuinely creating an inclusive workspace not by relying on simplistic quotas to address the inadequacy of non-White lawyers in your firm.


Middle class white oxbridge graduate

What about merit?



Merit has been sacrificed for what PR people think looks good on Instagram feeds.


Discarded minority

So they mislead people with marketing that looks inclusive, recruit a demographically diverse group of lawyers, photograph them for the Instagram, and get back to cultivating the people they actually want, i.e. one of them, leading the BAME lawyers with no opportunities anyway so they leave because there’s no point staying.


This is rubbish

Affirmative action has not worked historically. It’s in fact worked to the prejudice of non-minority candidates. If they could address the underlying prejudice against people of a different trajectory of socialisation and recognise merit in a way that emphasises ability rather than rapport then maybe minorities who have a long term compatibility with the recruiting institution would succeed by secondary intention. This looks like a sloppy adoption of a HR consultant’s recommendations… the same consultant used by the rest of the City I assume. When there’s no track record of inclusion it looks like a disingenuous attempt to show empathy when it’s convenient and reflects well on the firm’s reputation. Most minorities can see through the insincerity.



I’m reminded of what Michele Obama said on this issue—

“There’s a debate about affirmative action when it comes to race. What I point out is that I got to Princeton, I realized there’s a whole – all kinds of affirmative action that goes on. There are kids who get in because they’re athletes. There are kids who get in because there’s a legacy. It’s just that race stands out….But it was important for me to see that.”

We don’t talk about the existing forms of affirmative action that effectively already exist to protect the white (male) privileged classes. Whether it’s nepotism or just fitting in. We only talk about affirmative action which targets people from female, BAME or working class backgrounds. Go figure.



Yawn. It is all about class and nothing to do with race.



All aboard the bandwagon!!


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