If theres one subject that gets lawyers going its got to be diversity. Indeed, if you needed any more proof then all youve got to do is check out the string of user comments posted on TheLawyer.com triggered by the lead story in this weeks issue of The Lawyer.
If theres one subject that gets lawyers hot under the collars its got to be diversity. Indeed, if you needed any more proof then all youve got to do is check out the string of user comments posted on TheLawyer.com triggered by the lead story in this weeks issue of The Lawyer.
Lawyer2B.coms sister title featured a legal first on Monday (9 June): a law firm being rapped for being too proactive about diversity.
That was the fate of Eversheds, which has ignited a blazing row with recruitment consultants after the top ten law firms head of diversity Caroline Wilson warned that they were getting away with murder by not monitoring race, gender or sexuality among their prot訩s. See cover story.
Some of the comments make amusing reading but others do raise serious issues about the difficulties candidates from non-traditional backgrounds face when applying for training contracts and qualified lawyer roles. In light of my own disability I was particularly drawn to the comment from a newly qualified solicitor with a disability who claims it took them five years and over 500 applications to secure a training contract despite gaining a 2:1 and a commendation in their LPC.
I also agree with the person who raises the question of how diversity is going to be achieved. It reads: Counting minority numbers doesn't achieve anything other than the creation of a long list of numbers - where will they take it from there?
Though an increasing number of firms, including Eversheds, are taking diversity more seriously at the graduate recruitment level, a lot more work still needs to be done to make lawyers from non-traditional backgrounds feel less alienated at work. An obvious example is client entertainment, which on the main continues to be dominated by activities that are of interest to the white middle classes. For instance, when I was a trainee I remember how left out I felt when asked to attend client wine tasting evenings, golf tournaments and rugby matches.
Its very easy to play the blame game. But given the amount of work that is needed to boost diversity in the legal profession Id like to see all the parties in this row to call a truce and start working together. We might then just have half a chance of giving those candidates from less privileged backgrounds the same opportunities as their male, middle-class peers.
If youve got a story to tell about the difficulties you faced breaking into the law then why dont you get in touch?