Osborne Clarke looks to recruit more ethnic minority trainees

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By Rhys Duncan on


Launches new scholarship and mentoring scheme

Osborne Clarke has launched a new scheme, and bolstered its existing offering, in order to recruit more ethnic minority trainees.

The firm’s new pilot scheme, Osborne Clarke Scholars, provides university students from racial and ethnic minority communities financial support, paid work experience, a place on OC’s vacation scheme, and mentoring with a rookie and experienced mentor throughout their undergrad degree.

This offering is in addition to the firm’s existing OC REACH Talent Programme, which this year saw eight university students from an ethnic minority background undertake a week’s work experience, with mentors provided for the year following the programme.

Diversity data from the Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows that 10% of the firm’s associates and just 3% of the firm’s partners are from BME backgrounds. OC offers 35 training contracts a year across its London, Reading and Bristol offices, with the majority in the Capital. Newly qualified solicitors at the firm earn £91,500.

Bola Gibson, Osborne Clarke’s Head of Responsible Business, commented that: “Underrepresentation persists in the legal sector and the pipeline of talent into partnership can be difficult to tackle. By actively investing in early-stage talent programmes, it helps us to diversify our talent pipeline and we’re already beginning to see positive outcomes.”

“As we approach the end of the year, it’s wonderful to celebrate the progress we’re making in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace, where black and ethnic minority colleagues can thrive. We continue to grow representation and improve engagement, and we are only just getting started.”

OC also participates in the 10,000 Black Interns programme, taking on 12 interns for a six-week stint in legal and business services teams. Three training contract offers, and one fixed term contract, were given to 2023 interns.



Why can’t firms of this stature focus simply on recruiting the best candidate regardless of background?


Where’s the virtue in that?


That old chestnut!

The legal professional has always been closed off to many in society, with socio-economic factors playing a crucial role.

Any strategy which targets inclusion to the professional should be good thing. You can’t tell me the “best candidate” only come from a certain background.


No one is telling you such things – please do re-read my post.

Could you please set out clearly your issue with the best candidate for a position not being given that position?


We live in a world of nature and nurture, Alan.

I personally grew up in a small village near Newbury. I was surrounded by a number of individuals who breed thoroughbred race horses. Those horses, by nature and through breeding are very different to your average nag in a field. As such, it is those horses that are trained to the highest standard and highly invested it. That is the nuture they receive due to their nature. The two go hand in hand. It naturally follows that those horses will be the winners every year at Cheltenham, Aintree, etc. A race horse owner will naturally want to get their hands on one if they can.

I now work in the field of humans. Lawyers to be precise. Unlike thoroughbred race horses, despite many in the professional following in the footsteps of their parent(s), there is no natural born lawyer. Nurture is what gets you there. Privilege means that some will have been nurtured from a young age. As such, during the specific snapshot of time, at time of application those nurtured individuals might be ‘better’. But of course they would be, because to date they have had the nurture unavailable to those less privileged. But is that what we are after? Or are we looking for underlying talent that, with future nurture, will shape the partners of tomorrow?

The answer of course is you want a diverse mix. You want smart individuals whose parents happen to be lawyers and who have had the privilege of an upbringing that brings them to the table more polished. But initiatives such as this one aimed at giving minority lawyers more of a chance can only help diversify the mix and give chances to those who, with nurture, could excel and provide an excellent return on investment for the firm in the future. This one is aimed at minority lawyers, but I say hats off to others aimed at helping disabled lawyers, those from working class backgrounds, or whatever the initiative might be. To simply target those individuals who are currently ‘better’ and not to consider the wider picture is simply naive. You shouldn’t need an old farm hand like me to point that out.


Marvin’s ridiculously long (and dubiously genuine) story misses a critical point – this class of talented but un-nurtured candidates are not necessarily -ethnic- minorities. If these firms want to make a genuine impact and recruit genuinely the best talent, their policies should not be ethnicity-based. There are too many White/non-ethnic minority candidates who are talented and don’t get a fair shot, in favour of less-than-deserving minority candidates (who are often sons or daughters of sheikhs, oil barons or singaporean bankers). Think on that.


You must not have got to the final paragraph, which addresses this (“This one is aimed at minority lawyers, but I say hats off to others aimed at helping disabled lawyers, those from working class backgrounds, or whatever the initiative might be”). Your post is redundant.


I think you’ll find that there are also programmes which focus on those from low socioeconomic backgrounds too, which therefore include white working class students. To say that those involved in programmes aimed at ethnic minorities are “often sons and daughter of sheiks…” is EXTREMELY misguided. I’ve worked on various programmes of this nature for years and never once come across someone from privileged backgrounds.


Don’t be racist lol


All these bloody foreigners taking our jobs, right Nigel, sorry Alan!


You (perhaps deliberately, for a very weak “comic” effect) misinterpret my message. This is the exact opposite of my sentiment.

For you and others with a low age range reading composition I will repeat my message: best candidate for the job, regardless of everything. Therefore, if all the best candidates are foreign, so be it.


Will all ethnic minorities be treated equally as part of this?

The Noticer

“Diversity data from the Legal Cheek Firms Most List shows that 10% of the firm’s associates and just 3% of the firm’s partners are from BME backgrounds”

What % of the UK population is Black? Answer that, then we can have a proper discussion.

Anon Knee Mouse

What is the BMW % of the UK population? Surely we need that for context?

Car fan

And Audi and Mercedes % too please.


There are no ethnic minority candidates. There is no such thing as a BAME person. You can granularise ethnicity to the nth degree but of all the ethnicities none of these is ‘minority’. Han Chinese are a minority in Malaysia, and a majority in China.

Why is it that Indians are over-represented in the upper echelons of UK society, while Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are under-represented? Likewise Ghanaians, Nigerians and Kenyans socioeconomically outperform those of Caribbean heritage – despite belonging to the same ethnic background. How can it be that the differences within ethnicities are at least as stark as those between them?

The answer is complex but can be encapsulated in a word: class. Class has always been the great divider in the UK and continues to be such despite (or perhaps increasingly because of) the elite’s obsession with race.

If you want to hire disproportionately from a specific group in the name of social justice, then focus on the working class. An upshot will be that you will find those who benefit are disproportionately drawn from certain non-white ethnicities, and to boot you will avoid the unintended consequence of conferring additional privileges on the offspring of those members of the uppermost socioeconomic brackets who happen to be non-white.

kind regards

hit the nail right on the head

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