Freshfields targets social mobility ‘cold spots’ with sixth form mentoring scheme

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Teens eligible for paid internships at magic circle firm

Freshfields is looking to address social mobility ‘cold spots’ through the launch of a new mentoring programme which sees sixth-form students take part in work experience and skills sessions led by the magic circle firm’s employees.

The three-year programme, run in partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation, will see around 100 students each year from lower socio-economic and racially diverse backgrounds receive mentorship from the firm’s staff, including lawyers. Participants, all aged between 16 and 17, will also be eligible for a paid internship at one of Freshfields’ UK offices.

This year’s cohort will complete the programme in 2024, which the firm says will enable it to provide “long-term support at a crucial stage of the students’ lives”.

Freshfields’ London managing partner, Claire Wills, said the firm strongly believes that “career success should not be defined by an individual’s social background or ethnicity, and we feel we need to do what we can to address the systemic issues which create barriers for many”.

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She continued:

“The new programme will enable us to reach those with less access to privilege and opportunity, and help equip them with the tools and knowledge to succeed. Increasing diversity and inclusion across the legal profession is not only the right thing to do, it’s essential for our business and for society. We are really looking forward to welcoming the first cohort.”

Sarah Atkinson, CEO of the Social Mobility Foundation, added: “The pandemic has highlighted and increased the barriers which prevent disadvantaged young people achieving their potential, but it has also inspired businesses to respond to the challenge and invest in social mobility.”

The programme’s launch comes as a number of major City players including Simmons & Simmons, Norton Rose Fulbright, Linklaters and Allen & Overy, introduce recruitment targets to achieve greater ethnic and racial diversity across their trainee intakes.

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So this initiative appears to be open only to those of “lower socio-economic and racially diverse backgrounds.”

So in other words, it isn’t open to the white working class.

In my opinion, these schemes should be open to all from ‘lower socio-economic backgrounds.’ Further discrimination on the basic of ethnicity is unjustified and wrong.



Oh come off it. You don’t need to read LegalCheek’s haphazard explanation in bad faith.

It’s obviously for those from either a) lower socioeconomic and/or b) racially diverse backgrounds.

This is a good thing.



Why is it necessary for places to be taken by middle class BAME kids, which would be the implication of your post. Why do they need assistance,?



Good to see socioeconomic issues being addressed. The focus should only be on those from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds as that accounts for almost all the divergence in outcomes assessed by ethnicity too. BAME kids from rich backgrounds do not need any help, though unfortunately in the current tick box climate they benefit from diversity programmes that should be helping those that need it.



Spot on. Stats have shown for a while now that e.g. lower income white males are the least likely to attend university (quite a fair bit behind other ethnicities). The focus on BAME is very damaging. All these policies seem to subscribe to the idea that every white person attended a top school and has a bucketload of advantages – utter nonsense. I’m growing sick of it. Just keep skin colour out of it.


Sorry You Are Angry

Unfortunately poor white kids especially boys don’t have the weight of MeToo or BLM to drive a media agenda. The obsessive focus on ethnicity and gender just fuels a victim mentality which pushes the focus of firms and regulators away from where it is most needed.



The vast majority of white people attend state schools and are therefore horribly disadvantaged as against their middle class, privately educated cohort. More needs to be done to promote the legal profession in state schools so as to redress this.



No one cares.

Us big boys are all about that phat PEP and dollar stacks. This is some diversity shet the HR time wasters thought up to appear busy and relevant.


East Midlander

It had better reach out to the *actually disadvantaged* areas of the country such as Wales and the North East rather than just more schools in East London which seem to already benefit from all the corporate charity around.



But by going to East London it produces PR photo ops that suit the desired media agenda whereas Wales is 96 per cent white.



True. It’s the white, working class people who suffer the worst discrimination. The key is to get the Bar promoting the profession in state schools. We need more people called Ryan and Hannah and fewer called Charles and Isabella.



Who exactly ‘discriminates’ and stops White working class men from choosing to go to college and choosing a half-decent university?

Literally, which people?


‘Working Class’, as Grandad was a Bus Conductor

Oh look – the racists are out in force, since we must be reminded that going to a UK state school is necessarily the WORST thing a person could EVER go through in life.

They see BAME people being supported by confronting racism, and feel jealous. BAME people can’t change skin colour, but anyone can claim to be ‘working class’ as there is no objective definition. First in the family to go to uni? So was Prince Charles.

How do they ever find time to post on a legal website in between factory shifts????


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