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Law firms dominate social mobility employer list

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Top ten spots for BCLP, Browne Jacobson, HSF and Bakers

A number of corporate law firms have been recognised for their efforts to improve social mobility in the workplace.

The Social Mobility Foundation today announced its top 75 UK employers for social mobility, and over one third of the entries are law firms.

Employers on the list, which is now in its fourth year, are ranked based on the action they take to ensure they are open to and progressing talent from all backgrounds.

The highest ranking law firm in this year’s list was Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, in fourth place, followed by Browne Jacobson and Herbert Smith Freehills in fifth and seventh spot, respectively. Baker Mckenzie rounded off the top ten.

There were also top 20 spots for magic circle duo Linklaters (11th) and Freshfields (19th), as well as Hogan Lovells in 20th position.

Other law firms commended for their efforts to improve social mobility include: Brodies (24th), Slaughter and May (25th), Allen & Overy (28th), Pinsent Masons (30th), RPC (35th), Shoosmiths (38th), Burges Salmon (39th), DWF (40th), CMS (41st), Squire Patton Boggs (46th), Freeths (51st), Shepherd and Wedderburn (52nd), Simmons & Simmons (57th), Lewis Silkin (59th), Radcliffe Chambers (61st), Mayer Brown (66th), Macfarlanes (67th), TLT (68th), Charles Russell Speechlys (72nd).

Other legal entities to feature on the 2020 power list include the Ministry of Justice in sixth spot, the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in 53rd place, and the Crown Prosecution Service in 55th place. Big Four accountancy giant PwC took this year’s top spot.

The 2021 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

This year saw 119 employers from 17 sectors, who collectively employ almost one million people, enter the index which assesses employers across seven key areas including: outreach, recruitment, selection, progression and data collection processes. Employers are benchmarked based on the results of both employer and employee surveys.

Sarah Atkinson, chief-executive of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:

“Congratulations to all the businesses who submitted this year amidst challenging circumstances. Now more than ever, business must commit to supporting opportunities for young people. We urge those sectors not represented in this year’s index to make a public commitment to supporting social mobility in 2021 by joining the ranks of those employers who are already making such a difference to young people’s life chances.”

The legal sector’s strong showing is consistent with previous years. Interestingly, it was found, as part of a supplementary report, that 84% of law firm trainee intakes were from Russell Group universities, despite only 66% of applicants coming from those institutions.

This comes after the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) released the findings of its biannual collection of diversity data. Privately-educated lawyers continue to dominate corporate law firms, the SRA data shows, with three times as many lawyers (21%) having attended fee-paying schools than the national UK average (7%).

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