HSF junior lawyer makes Forbes power list for ‘alternative Old Boys network’

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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.

The 2022 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

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.

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Am I the only one who thinks this is a bit “us vs them”

You can go to a private school but not be from a particularly “wealthy” background as per (especially minor ones) or have received a scholarship-
not everyone is taking ostentatious holiday allowances and making these comments^.

You can also have family money and/or connections in law and go to a state or grammar school, especially if the ones in your area excel over the independents and/or your parents wish for you to be educated this way. Not everything is as clear cut


read before you type

You’re being defensive and completely missing the point of the club and of the article. This isn’t about saying private school educated individuals are rich therefore f them, it’s about addressing the lack in skills that state school educated students appear to have which leave them at a disadvantage when applying for jobs. I really cannot imagine why someone would take issue with that.


Meh Too

Exactly. Grammar school student from the Home Counties with professional parents has far more tailwind that a working class kid on a scholarship to a private school.



Very interesting and solid effort.

Sometimes I wonder whether UK firms nowadays try and shift the focus on all these social mobility / inclusivity and similar initiatives, to avoid having to address how far back they have fallen when compared to some of the US firms in the London market who are stealing their more motivated and high performing associates


Real Old Boys' Club Respecter

Hehehe. Nice try. But we’re still here. The incredibly dim but posh people who still unaccountably run the country. We’ll tolerate your little club and say all the right things. In fact we’ll basically cede corporate culture to you and your kind. But make no mistake. We’re still running the show…


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