Legal profession excels in latest social mobility rankings

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By Rona Ankrah on

Over 30 law firms make 2021 list with Browne Jacobson ranking top

The Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) today announced its top UK employers for social mobility, with almost half of those making the 2021 list hailing from the legal sector.

National law firm Browne Jacobson jumped four places to secure top spot this year, followed by Herbert Smith Freehills, which rose two positions to place third. The only other law firm to make the top 10 was Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, finishing 9th.

This year saw a record 203 employers, with a combined 1.35 million employees across the UK, apply to feature on the index which evaluates businesses across seven areas including: their work with young people; the attraction of staff; recruitment and selection; data collection processes; and progression of staff. Employers are benchmarked against one another, based on the results of both employer and employee surveys.

Further down the list, there were top 20 spots for CMS (13th), Squire Patton Boggs (which jumped 31 places to 15th), DLA Piper (17th) and Baker McKenzie (19th).

The other law firms commended for their efforts to improve social mobility this year were: Allen & Overy (24th), Slaughter and May (27th), Linklaters (28th), Pinsent Masons (30th), Lewis Silkin (34th), Hogan Lovells (35th), Freshfields (37th), Shoosmiths (42nd), Simmons & Simmons (43rd), Brodies (44th), Eversheds Sutherland (47th), Osborne Clarke (48th), Shepherd and Wedderburn (50th), DWF (51st), Macfarlanes (52nd), Clyde & Co (53rd), Burges Salmon (56th), Addleshaw Goddard (59th), RPC (63rd), Taylor Wessing (67th), Mishcon de Reya (68th), Ashurst (69th), White & Case (70th) and Mayer Brown (74th).

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Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice and Crown Prosecution Service placed 11th and 26th respectively, while at the bar, Radcliffe Chambers secured 62nd spot on this year’s list.

The Rt Hon. Alan Milburn, the chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, said:

“The pandemic has exposed the new geography of disadvantage in Britain and, through disruption in the classroom, exam hall and workplace, created serious barriers to young people’s opportunities. All of the employers represented in the Index are showing that it is possible to create a society where it is not background or birth but aptitude and ability that dictate progress in life. If we are to rescue the fraying promise of a meritocratic society, then more employers must join them and government must follow suit in taking targeted action to address social mobility.”

A raft of law firms have launched initiatives this year in a bid to improve social mobility and diversity across the legal profession. Osborne Clarke recently announced new programme to provide careers support to disadvantaged school children, while Norton Rose Fulbright created a bursary scheme to support aspiring lawyers from underprivileged backgrounds. Other firms to up their efforts through various initiatives include Freshfields, Linklaters and Gowling WLG.

View the full rankings below:

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