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Top City law firms come together to run diversity ‘hackathon’

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Legal CORE aims to increase representation of BAME individuals in private practice through collaborative forums and crowdsourcing ideas

Top City law firms have come together to tackle issues of race and diversity in the legal sector with the launch of a new independent and firm-led initiative.

The founding members of Legal CORE, a Collaboration On Race and Ethnicity, are Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Herbert Smith Freehills, Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright and Slaughter and May, who came together last year to jointly tackle the under-representation of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in private practice. The collaboration kicked off last week and now has a total of 22 law firm members.

Paul Stacey, executive partner at Slaughter and May and co-chair of Legal CORE, said: “We know there needs to be a deeper focus on Black representation and an improvement across other ethnicities at law firms. When we came together as a group last year we were all in agreement that by acting unilaterally, firms can make progress, but ultimately we all have similar challenges, so a sector-wide approach will have a more sustainable impact.”

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Over the next couple of months, Legal CORE, which is formed of diversity and inclusion leads and senior partners from each firm, will be hosting “a cross-firm hackathon”, inviting participants from across the legal industry to come together and crowdsource ideas on how to improve retention and progression for BAME individuals. It will also pilot a “leadership forum” where senior leaders from the founding firms will explore how to effect change within their firm, and introduce a “best practice forum” to share solutions on what works best such as reverse mentoring or data analytics.

Farmida Bi, chair, Norton Rose Fulbright, Europe, Middle East and Asia (EMEA), said: “Legal CORE is different in that we are independent and law firm-led and therefore closer to the challenges that need to be addressed within private practice. Our intention is not to create a new charter or replicate existing work, but to be action orientated, act as a convening body for law firms, and provide a forum to find collaborative and innovative solutions. We all know that collaboration is a powerful incentive to keep attention fixed on progress over the longer term, so we’re really excited about this initiative.”

Research undertaken by The Law Society last year showed that BAME solicitors are underrepresented in larger firms, especially at partner level.

Keen to find out more about life at these firms or a life in law more generally? Why not sign up to the Legal Cheek UK Virtual Law Fair. It takes place tomorrow, on Thursday 4 November, between 2-5pm, and features 70 law firms, including all the magic circle and leading US firms’ London offices, international firms, and national firms across the UK.

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