Free law firm merch is losing its appeal among students, report finds

Avatar photo

By Aishah Hussain on


One in two say it makes them less likely to apply

From branded highlighters to stress balls, hats, sticky notes and sweets, we’ve seen our fair share of law firm merch, but now a new report suggests it may be losing its appeal among students.

The Sustainable Recruitment Alliance’s Impact Report 2022, published towards the end of last week, reveals that one in two students are not taken in by freebies and that it actually makes them less likely to apply to a firm.

The survey was carried out by student research firm Cibyl alongside the Alliance and considered the views of 2,390 students and graduates from 124 universities.

“Merchandise is irrelevant,” said one student respondent. “I will apply to work with them if I have a good experience with their representatives, and if they have a post that I wish to pursue. Merchandise feels like bribery and I’m not a fan.”

The 2023 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Of those students that have been offered free merch, one in two said they have refused it at some point.

“It’s not always something I need and sometimes it feels like it’s more clutter rather than something useful or that really identifies with the career or company,” said another student.

The Alliance was founded in 2020 by Laura Yeates, who was then head of graduate talent at Clifford Chance. Yeates, now diversity and inclusion manager at Latham & Watkins, launched the initiative to reduce the carbon footprint of graduate recruitment teams. The Alliance currently has 85 employer signatories (more than half are law firms) and eight university signatories.

Its latest report highlights the progress of its second year in action, focusing on the recruitment activities of 38 signatories planned between September 2022 and August 2023. It’s projecting the emissions from the merch they’ve purchased to fall by 95% in 2022-23, when compared to a 2019-20 baseline. This is in spite of the number of events increasing more than three-fold, from 624 in 2021-22 to 1,986 in 2022-23, according to the report.

For all the latest commercial awareness info, news and careers advice:

Sign up to the Legal Cheek Newsletter

Related Stories

Is it all over for law firm freebies?

17 law firms pledge greener trainee recruitment practices, possibly spelling end for law student-coveted merch

Nov 9 2021 10:16am

SQE prep provider pledges to reduce law fair merch in new eco push

BARBRI joins elite City firms in signing up to the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance

May 12 2022 5:59am

Farewell freebies? 7 City firms pledge greener trainee recruitment practices

Reduction in merch and limit to on-campus travel among possible changes

Aug 11 2020 12:06pm