Slaughter and May wants more working-class lawyers

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By Bradley Fountain-Green on


Elite Magic Circle outfit sets series of new social mobility targets

Elite law firm Slaughter and May is looking to increase the number of working-class lawyers amongst its ranks as part of a series of new social mobility targets.

The Magic Circle players is looking to increase the proportion of lawyers from lower-social economic backgrounds (LSEB) to 15% by 2033. This is up from a baseline of 10%.

Slaughters already runs a number of programmes to encourage graduates from non-traditional backgrounds through its doors, and offers financial support through its scholarship scheme. It was also one of the first big City players to embrace contextual recruitment; a system which looks at graduates’ academic achievements against a range of socio-economic data.

Staff working in services supporting the firm’s lawyers, such as business development and IT, have greater lower-social economic representation at 34%, but the firm wants to increase this number to 40% within the next ten years.

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Individuals’ socio-economic background will be measured by assessing parental occupation at the age of 14.

“We want to be more intentional in our continued search for talent to ensure we bring the best people into our business,” said Steve Cook, senior partner at Slaughter and May.

“The targets we have announced today, together with others we have set in relation to gender and ethnicity, are part of an overall approach to ensure we are reaching the widest possible talent pool.”

Whilst Slaughters is one of the first major law firms to set social mobility targets, efforts to encourage graduates form non-traditional backgrounds into the profession are on the rise. Squire Patton Boggs recently has set aside 75% of its internship places, excluding vacations schemes, to disadvantaged students, while Ropes & Gray launched a social mobility work experience programme in London.

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“We’d love more working class lawyers here. All members of our current team from working class backgrounds absolutely love it, and we asked both of them.”

be real

Both the Managing and Senior Partner of Slaughters are state educated. They seem to have done alright there.


Being one of the 93% of the population who went to a state school doesn’t make you working class. I went to a state school and both my parents are doctors in Surrey, I’m hardly Billy Elliott.

How many current Slaughters partners were eligible for free school meals would be far more useful in showing how open it is to working class applicants.




It is so shocking that they have to make employing more ‘working class’ people an aim. A prime example of backwards Britain


Law firms are great at announcing their social mobility and inclusion programmes … you know make it seem like they are “progressive and inclusive.”

What’s the point when the glass ceiling exists? This just reeks of we want the best lower socio economic background lawyers and we’ll keep their progression stagnant at this law firm.

Don’t be fooled by the notion of increased diversity or inclusion.

Equity Vac Schemer

Hahaha I’m not surprised. This shop is toff / dork central.

Lawyer looking for loopholes

Can’t you just say in the application that, for example, your father worked as a tradesman? How will they verify it?

Salt of the Earth

I have listened to the Largo from Dvorak’s 9th at least 50 times, my work experience was down a coal mine and I walked ten miles to school, there and back, every day, come rain or shine. Pie ‘n’ peas is my favourite scran.

Ex PRIME Scheme now future Trainee

Probably similarly to how they do for PRIME or Sixth form schemes. Use POLAR, some other social mobility index or base it off whether you where eligible for free school meals at any point during secondary. The last would be more difficult to verify after leaving the school though.


Nice way to discriminate against applicants from Wales or Scotland.


15% and by 2033? Wow so ambitious!!

2PE Not At Slaughters

As someone who is from a state school background (but harbours no ill will to people who went to private school and is even friends with some of them!) it is hard not to be slightly cynical about these targets.

The way to recruit more state school/working class people is to…recruit more state school/working class people!

I have started to have small amounts of exposure to the recruitment process and the reality is that, in the vast majority of cases, applicants from private schools have more “polish” and, if you are serious about diversifying the workforce. It really is that simple.


I’ll believe it when I see it


This would be fine if they actually hired working class people from their existing schemes… too often, much like with similar schemes for university entrance, you get middle class people pretending to be working class who sneak in by way of lax enforcement of the schemes.

Tactics include: declaring only one parent’s income etc etc. Half the people I’ve seen get hired via these schemes are not remotely close to working class.


If both your parents work, you working class, so declaring only one would be counter productive

Working class hero

My dad is a surgeon and my mother is the director of a large multinational firm.


And you should be proud to be working class. Unless you think you’re something else??


I have met several people at my MC firm who genuinely believe “working class” means parents both work.


And they would be right to think that. Class is not about what jobs you do or your wage , the ABC classification takes care of this. The very epitome of middle class life is a stay at home mum.


This is one of those issues where deception cannot win. It’s so easy to find out truth vs puffery. The reason why organisations like these called themselves elite, in my view, is to signal the types of people they interact with, which corresponds more often with the types of people they want working for them. Social mobility, generally, is not front-facing in the selection process – social status is.

Legal Cheek enjoyer

FAO Legal cheek webpage designer:

I have no real complaints about the new look website (whether desktop or mobile), apart from the fact that you can no longer see how many comments have been made on an article without clicking on the article in question. This means it is hard to see which articles have the best chat going on underneath them without having to open a load of articles to scroll down and check.

Kind regards,

Bored lev fin trainee

Ali Green

Legal Cheek webpage designer here! Comment counts have been restored. Enjoy!

Satisfied reader

Cheers! How about a bonus for the great responsiveness here, Alex?

Al Addin

Do we still have two of our three wishes left or did Satisfied Reader just waste one of them?

“Working class” lawyer

There are no “working class” lawyers at Slaughter and May. “Working class background”, sure. But once you’re on 115k and up the only think tying you and your family to the working class is the application form.

mc trainee

Manifestly disagree… c. 60k take home is not exactly money to make sure your family are ‘kept’. Especially the first few years: those who have never had it are more likely to go out and enjoy it (as they should).

I went to a state school and was eligible for free school meal… I don’t see how there’s any scope to retire my parents until I make partner!

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