Herbies targets cultural diversity with new firm network

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  • The issue of "racial and cultural diversity" in firms is a complete red herring.

    By all means it would be great to see more black (as in British born Afro Caribbean / African) lawyers, however, the real issue in these firms is the state school / public school divide.

    I used to work at a well known national firm with lots of British born Asian and Oriental lawyers, they were however, just like their white counterparts, all public / top private school educated. Those lawyers in the firm who were edcuated in the state sector probably totalled about 5%, and definitely not more than 10%.

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  • I completely agree - well said Tim. I am a British Asian who went to a top private school and there are many others like me. Very few from state schools - educational divide is the root of the problem.

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  • All these initatives are not to be knocked but until they are not connected to a particular firm's brand there will always be suspicion that they are just extensions of it and their impact reduced accordingly. I think Simmons does something similar, for example...

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  • As Tim quite rightly says, the real discrimination is on financial and class parameters.

    This sort of publicity stunt is just window-dressing.

    The dead giveaway is the nonsensical management-speak used by Ms Lee - "addressing issues", "strategy", "diversity and inclusion" - all weasel words designed to divert attention away from the fact that really they don't want to employ anyone who doesn't conform to the norm.

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  • I would dearly like to see Herberts, and all top 20 law firms for that matter, publish the statistics of the schooling of all of their lawyers.

    I would put a lot of money on under 10% having received an education solely in the state sector. This is shocking when you consider that only circa 7% of the population receives a private education.

    Why doesn't The Lawyer do something useful and attempt to collate this data?

    This whole "race" thing is so tiresome. As is these law firms finding the roughest school in Tower Hamlets and dragging their year 9 pupils on tours around plush offices in the City to "open doors" and "give them an insight into the legal profession".

    In fact, as City Gent says, you need to conform to the norm. If you're not another institutionalised public school clone then your face doesn't fit.

    Am I being chippy? may be, but do I speak the truth? yes

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  • I'm delighted that Tim has identified the main discriminatory factor in law firm recruitment. Unlike gender, race, religion etc there is no law against discrimination on the basis of educational background, which is why it continues with no likleyhood of change. I've worked in legal recruitment for years and the main factor that firms use to differentiate candiates at the training contract stage is the state/public school education one, it being illegal to do so on the basis of race, gender etc. This is why the VAST MAJORITY of candidates we see are public school educated.
    The current debate surrounding the funding of universities touches on this issue but doesn't actually address it. It is NOT the university one attended, nor the degree attained, but whether you went to a public school that confers an advantage for life. Crazy to think that via 'charitable status' public schools enjoy a £200 MILLION subsidy, paid for by the cleaners who empty the public school bins!

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  • Well said Bobby.

    Instead of being a voicepiece for these firms' PR drivel, why doesn't The Lawyer do some proper investigative journalism?

    Herbert Smith, Ms Lee, Head of Diversity and Inclusion (!), I'm calling you out, I know you will be reading this, where are all of your comprehensive schooled lawyers? Where is the diversity you seemingly are so keen to promote?

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  • Tim...I couldn't have put it more perfectly. Well said.

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  • I agree with all the comments made. I went to a comprehensive school in a very rough area and met pretty much blanket resistance when seeking an LPC place and training contract and job interviews. I can count on one hand the number of firms that were prepared to see me - Herbies was one of them.

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  • In my experience I'd say the bigger problem is with universities. No one can really blame law firms from recruiting from top universities so that their trainees have client-reassuring educational institutions on their CVs. It just so happens that the majority of people in these universities are privately educated.

    However, success in the legal job market does also seem to be about who you know rather than what you know.

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