Sophie Pender recognised for social mobility efforts
A junior lawyer in the London office of Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) has made one of Forbes magazine’s ’30 Under 30′ power lists in recognition of her efforts in promoting social mobility across the legal profession and beyond.
Bristol University English graduate Sophie Pender completed her training contract at HSF, qualifying into its corporate team in September 2021.
But it was during her undergraduate studies that she founded The 93% Club, an organisation which aims to “redress the social mobility gap” in professional sectors by equipping students “with the skills to become serious competitors in the job market”.
The club looks to achieve this by giving these students the opportunity to attend workshops, seminars and social activities, as well as through running a variety of “thought-provoking” campaigns and policy programmes to raise awareness.
The 93% comes from the fact state educated students, who account for 93% of the population “face exceptional inequality when it comes to obtaining opportunities at university and in the workplace”, according to the project’s website.
Pender describes the club, which has attracted over 10,000 students members since its launch six years ago, as “a sustainable and equitable alternative to the ‘Old Boys’ network”. Some newspapers have gone as far dubbing it “a Bullingdon in reverse” — a play on the elite dining society for wealthy Oxford University students.
The junior lawyer appears on the Europe 2022 Social Impact edition of the list, which recognises individuals who are “systemically and sustainably transforming education, business and beyond”.
Law firms have ramped up their social mobility efforts in recent years with a range of initiatives, including bursaries, mentoring and work experience programmes. The latest social mobility rankings feature 30 legal employers, including Pender’s firm, HSF.