News UK Business Leadership Recruiters slam Eversheds’ demands for diversity By The Lawyer 9 June 2008 12:04 13 December 2015 23:57 Sign in or register to continue reading. It's FREE Sign in Email Password Keep me logged in Forgot your password? Not registered? It's FREE! Register now Register with The Lawyer Bobby Smith 9 June 2008 at 13:04 Recruiters slam Eversheds’ demands for diversity This must be the start of the ‘silly season’ for news. How on earth are recruitment companies supposed to manage the diversity of the law firms they serve when it is the law firms who make the final decision as to who they recruit? Have a look at the diversity of those NQs who are not kept on by ALL law firms and you’ll find this unlucky group is often OVER representative of ethnic and gender minorities. Many firms display an obvious and overt racist and sexist policy for those who would be the future of the profession. Only when the default recruitment for white, middle class and male candidates changes will the recuiters be able to assist with diversity within the firms they act for. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 13:09 Recruiters slam Eversheds’ demands for diversity I think its laughable that the law firms are now taking this stance. As an International recruiter myself I think its an issue that needs to be addressed . It is also very important to look further afield to other British jurisdictions where I have found the recruiting policies bordering on illegal especially in the Cayman Islands (a point the The Lawyer should potentially explore!!). Reply Link Simone Higgins 9 June 2008 at 14:24 Diversity in recruitment I am a black solicitor and law lecturer who has sort of reached the age where I can say I have seen it all before. I think Eversheds’ policy is good – even if it is tied to the demands of a powerful client. However, I agree with the recruitment agencies that law firms are primarilly at fault. But I also blame universties and some students. There has long been a bias towards white middle class recruits etc, and frankly it is not going to go away. However, the problem can not be laid entirely at the door of law firms. There are considerable problems at the education level. It remains the case that most of the better known law firms and central government tend to take trainees, pupils or qualified lawyers from old universties rather than the new. In my experience the latter is where most ethnic minority candidates will have obtained their degree. There remains a considerable amount of snobbery about degrees and A-levels and the like (class, your postal code and your grades) and where they are obtained. There is no doubt that there are problems as to the quality of the courses that are run from some institutions (not all are their fault given lack of resources, more students and low paid lecturers). But it is my view that many of those problems can be found in old and new universities. The results of these problems are sometimes exhibited in the quality of the applications made and work produced by white as well as black students and their unrealistic behaviour and expectations. I also think that some students (black and white) need to do a bit more research about their proposed university. Some universities may be cheaper and nearer to home, which of course is an issue in these days of loans and the credit crunch, but if a university’s services are poor and its reputation is dire (whether or not the reputation is deserved), you will have wasted your money, however little, you think you have spent. Some degrees will not be worth having (however affordable) as they willl not enable you to get a job. My advice, especially to Black students, if anyone wants it, is to do everything you can to reduce the issues that are likely to get your CV rejected by the middle class fraternity. Go to a well respected uni, get a 2.1 or 1st, be active in university and community activities to enhance your CV and enjoy life, contact the various black lawyer networks for advice and help, regularly review the quality of your CV, and know your law. Also, watch lots of episodes of Holby City, Kavangh QC and the like to get used to the ways of arrogant middle class professionals (you will be working with many of them black as well as white if you get a legal job) and perhaps develop tactics on how to ignore them or challenge them without losing your job. None of it is easy, but remember there are dozens of white middle class people who do what they have to (easy or not) to get what they want – you need to do the same. Also, being a lawyer is not easy-so you may as well get use to it. Baroness Scotland and Barrack Obama need not be exceptions to the rule. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 14:39 Recruiters and diversity What’s laughable is that recruiters think that they can wash their hands of this issue. The point is not that they monitor whom law firms finally make an offer to (duh..that’s the law firms’ job), but rather that they monitor how their own candidate discovery and appraisal works. Do minority candidates have an equal chance of being put forward for a job at the top law firms, or are they held back by recruiters because of (possibly unconscious) stereotyping? Reply Link Cliff Chance 9 June 2008 at 14:51 Eversheds are passing the buck Eversheds are using the recruiters as a pawn to make a big statement in front of Tyco. Regardless of whether they monitor diversity stats or not, recruiters are actually powerless to change anything as it is law firms and universities that actually create lawyers. Recruiters can only work with what they’ve got. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 15:00 Re: recruiters and diversity (below) I think the comment below (14.39) is unfair. Most recruiters wouldn’t hold back any candidate if they believe the candidate is likely to get a job: it’s just not in their interests. If I as a recruiter do hold an application back from someone who is female/BME/gay, whether consciously or unconsciously, it is because I believe that the law firm or company is not going to give a job to that person. This not due to my own prejudice, but because I am aware of the prejudice of that organisation – if I thought they might get the job, its in my commercial interest to put ANYONE forward. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 15:33 Recruiters and Diversity Re comment at 15:00. If that is the case, then there shouldn’t be any problem for recruiters in monitoring what they do. It is, however, absurd to say that you are financially motivated to be free of prejudice. If that is the case there would be no discrimination in a market economy. Law firms ought to have no reason to discriminate against the very best legal minds, but diversity programmes come into being because it happens anyway! Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 15:52 Diversity: let’s not kid ourselves At risk of sounding massively un-PC, diversity is manifestly a social responsibility issue, not an economic one. If they are honest, the reason that companies often choose people from middle class, public-school educated backgrounds is not because they are inherently snobbish, rather that those two factors offer them more of a ‘safe bet’. Being middle-class or public school-educated doesn’t make you cleverer – there are plenty of thick posh people too – but the education you will have received is likely to have been of a higher standard. You will also have been surrounded in your formative years by confident people who speak clearly, and you will have been encouraged and applauded, not stigmatised, for being bright. All of this is gives you a good foundation – that’s why posh people pay for it. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 16:28 Define ‘diversity’ It’s vital here to define ‘diversity’. For instance many firms could easily up their diversity count by increasing the number of public school-educated people of Indian origin. That would tick the ‘BME’ box and give the firm/recruiter something to boast about, even though people of Indian origin in England actually have a proportionally higher number of professionals in their ethnic group than do white people. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 17:37 DIVERSITY As a senior level headhunter I welcome any progress that can be made in terms of diversity. However I would suggest that law firms should take a long hard look at their own practices rather than pointing the finger of blame elsewhere. It would be interesting to hear how many times recruiters have been told “0f course we can’t really say this but we would prefer a man for this department”?! It is all well and good for heads of diversity to criticise the approach of other companies but perhaps the first and most important step is to ensure that their own partners are in line with the egalitarian approach being advocated. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 17:57 Diversity Eversheds’ diversity credentials are fairly tarnished when it comes to employing, promoting and retaining both ethnic minorities and women. With typical Sheds’ spin they are making a virtue out of a necessity, given that renewal of their highly prized (but disasterously priced) contract with Tyco and its voluble GC Trevor Faure demanded positive action in relation to diversity. Rather than bashing the recruiters (who can only work with the talent pool available) why don’t Eversheds put their money where their mouth is and do something useful in the community? Painting infant school toilet blocks isn’t going to do much to improve the career prospects of inner city kids. Eversheds might also look hard at their own selection and promotion processes to open up opportunities to a wider group. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 18:42 Feeling the pinch It is entertaining that the large/top law firms, having trained up a large pool of middle-class, white and mediocre lawyers are now going to scrabble for ‘diverse’ candidates. While it is good to see that Tyco has the power to cause a wholesale change in a law firm’s approach to recruiting, it is sad to see that the first thing Eversheds does is pass the buck and recruiters whine like spoilt brats about how difficult it all is. If they don’t want to work for their money, all they have to do is walk away from the proposal. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 18:53 Diversity One of the major problems with diversity in the legal field is that no-one is actually owning up to the facts: 1. There is positive discrimination in favor of men. Women are graduating at a far higher rate than men in law and broadly at university as a whole yet law firms try to maintain a near 50/50 ratio of men to women. 2. A large part of the problem with BME students starts long before they apply to a law firm. BME students, especially black ones, are underrepresented in LLB and GDL programs. This is particularly the case at the traditionally well respected unis. Law firms and recruitment agencies can only work with the people that have met the required standards to be there. The solution is to begin to address the problem of lack of BME students at an earlier point. Trying to fix serious educational inequality at the law firm stage is too little, too late. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 19:12 Speaking as a recruiter… Speaking as a recruiter for a top UK consultancy I can honestly say that we always provide our clients with the best shortlist of candidates regardless of age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. What the Law firms decide to do with those shortlisted candidates is up to them. Recruiters are an easy target to pass the buck to, and are a much maligned group by the legal profession as a whole. The lack of professionalism exhibited by some recruitment agencies give those who genuinely add value for both their candidates and clients a bad name. In a talent-scarce market we save partners valuable billing time in sourcing high calibre candidates whose ambitions and personalities match that of the firm. Contrary to popular belief, we do not cold call candidates with irrelevant roles, nor do we pressure them into accepting unsuitable roles – to do so would be to undermine our hard earned reputation and undercut our long term growth for the sake of a quick buck. Reply Link Adil Khan 9 June 2008 at 19:31 DIVERSITY I think the approach Eversheds is taking due to the pressure of its client is well weighted, however like most of the individuals have pointed out below, I agree that its the firm who has the last say. I am of an ethnic origin, I graduated from a University with not such a well repute, i went on to complete my LPC but had no joy gaining a training contract due to the diversity issue, so i took to the route to qualify in a commonwealth jurisdiction as an Advocate – finally i can qualify in the UK as a solicitor. The point is how much time and funds I have wasted to qualify in the UK just purely due to the fact that my name did not sound as the law firms wanted it to, I do welcome this change but putting it into practice is another story. Reply Link Anonymous 9 June 2008 at 21:09 Diversity As a senior in-house lawyer, I don’t care whether firms are diverse or not – what I care about is that I receive a first class legal and commercial service. Counting numbers of people from different ethnic backgrounds etc. is irrelevant tosh – if law firms miss out on good people as a result of their own prejudices, service will deteriorate, firms will lose clients/work, and firms will need to recruit better to redress their failings. Recruit on merit, and ignore everything else. Reply Link Anonymous 10 June 2008 at 09:01 Response to: ‘Diversity: let’s not kid ourselves’ An interesting post, I am from an ethnic minority background and I went to a public school. I totally disagree with the post below ‘Diversity: let’s not kid ourselves’. Most of my peers from public school dropped out of higher education and never completed their degrees. Their academic education might have been ‘better’ but it does not mean that the school instilled a sense of confidence, hard work and discipline in them at all. Therefore, going to public school does not give you a better foundation in life. All it does is install a false sense of superiority and confidence in you which isn’t going to get you far in the big wide world, chump. Reply Link Nick Root, Taylor Root legal recruitment 10 June 2008 at 09:44 Don’t tar us all with their brush I was interested to read the article on the front page of The Lawyer regarding diversity and legal recruitment consultancies. There only appeared to be a few recruiters mentioned, which I suspect doesn’t necessarily give a fair and accurate view of how seriously diversity is taken into account by all recruiters. At Taylor Root, and across the whole of The SRGroup, we have our own diversity policy and have monitored all new candidates since 2004, looking at race, gender, sex and age. This information is completed by the candidates at registration stage on a voluntary basis and all information is stored anonymously. Reply Link Doris Johnson 10 June 2008 at 10:01 Re: ‘Diversity: let’s not kid ourselves’ Re the post at 9.01, you’re hyperbolising massively. If you are really saying that MOST of the people you went to public school with didn’t finish their degrees, which is hard to believe, you went to an untypically bad public school. Though we can argue about the fairness and the explanations behind it, no-one can seriously deny that public schools have on average consistently better academic results than state schools – insisting otherwise just isn’t credible. Reply Link Margaret Hilda Roberts 10 June 2008 at 10:07 Discrimination… in favour of men? Re yesterday evening’s post about ‘positive discrimination’ in favour of men, I’d question how positive that really is. Women might be overtaking men in terms of new law graduates, but even with a 50/50 ratio among new lawyers, most firms remain dominated by men for several years to come. I for one thing that a legal world of the future dominated by women would only be pay-back! Reply Link Anonymous 10 June 2008 at 10:39 Recruiters slam Eversheds’ demands for diversity Nick Root says that candidates voluntarily provide race, gender, ethnic etc. information and it is stored anonymously. So what? The pressure to compete the form is there, even if latent. I for one don’t believe that such information does not play a part in HR recruitment decisions. As a white, middle-aged person I certainly feel discriminated against. Reply Link Always worried 10 June 2008 at 10:47 Discrimination – in favour of men To Margaret Holda Roberts – do you think that two wrongs make a right here? I agree that he profession has long been dominated by men. But I also believe that is changing, admittedly not fast enough for some. Looking forward to payback only serves to entrench attitudes, surely? Reply Link A. Reader 10 June 2008 at 11:01 Diversity monitoring Can monitoring really make any difference on its own? Unless it is accompanied by positive discrimination, diversity statistics are nothing but just that: statistics. However few if any organisations are prepared to embrace positive discrimination except perhaps on gender lines (see poster below), knowing full well that this alienates hard-working people who happen not to be from a minority group, and that positive discrimination is an insult to people from minority groups that have succeeded entirely on their own merits. Reply Link Sol Icitor 10 June 2008 at 11:05 ‘Tackling’ diversity Further to some of the previous posts, I would like to know what Tyco/The Lawyer/Eversheds mean when they refer to ‘tackling diversity’. Presumably this means the firm having to hit some sort of target about the number of lawyers from different minorities it has – which necessitates positive discrimination. If that’s not the case, I’d like to hear the firm say it. Reply Link anonymous 10 June 2008 at 11:31 tackling diversity Re comment by Bobby Smith: interesting point which I think reveals a lot about the legal profession. It would be hard to doubt that numbers of minority students being offered training contracts. Not offering contracts to bright young minority graduates would be a big no-no, and recruitment brochures lacking glossy photos of their diverse trainee group would be quickly picked up on. However, at the firm I trained at, those who did not stay on after qualification were overwhelmingly those trainees from a minority background. Some were not offered jobs on qualification, but there were also relatively many who simply chose not to stay. Why? Not fitting in, realising that to advance will mean having to be twice as good as white male solicitors, sometimes encountering overtly racist attitudes are but a few of the reasons. It’s one thing (for the Shed) to start recruiting lots of solicitors from minority backgrounds; it’s another to change the workplace environment into one where they will stay and flourish. Reply Link Anonymous 10 June 2008 at 11:56 Eversheds is totally hypocrytical It is 100% Eversheds own fault – they are stuck in their ways and it is the firm and the lawyers who are prejudiced against ethnic minorities. One of the very best at diversity is Herbert Smith or Clifford Chance, but for Eversheds to complain about recruiters is a joke. On times when I have forwarded international CVs through to Eversheds they have been rejected. Eversheds should take a long hard look at itself as it is one of the most backward, un-PC firms in the City. There is no problem with the international firms, so maybe Tyco should look to do business elsewhere as the Magic Circle firms and top international practices certainly do not have a problem with diversity. Reply Link Bobby Smith 10 June 2008 at 12:09 Recruiters slam Eversheds’ demands for diversity I believe that much of the problem with diversity boils down to the fact that the vast majority of those lawyers involved in the recruitment process are recruiting in their own image. THEY are white, middle class and public school-educated, and as lawyers tend to be risk averse, they are recruiting the same. This not only leads to many minority and female candidates ‘failing at interview,’ but also keeps the environment that the rest have to work within as an extension of the rather clubby public school and white, male-dominated firms we see today. Solution? Have a look at the complete lack of social mobility in this country to begin answering that. Reply Link Cameron David 10 June 2008 at 12:23 ‘Complete lack of social mobility’? Re the post at 12.09, while I agree with most of what Bobby Smith says, the ‘complete lack of social mobility’ you describe in Britain is not the case in London, at least – my doctor is Asian, my dentist Greek, my (wealthy) plumber Polish and my head of department an Anglified Indian… true, they’re all male, but none of them are white and only the head of department is public school-educated. Reply Link JT 10 June 2008 at 12:37 Oh the whinging…… ‘Payback for women…. racist…. sexist…. hire less whites…. conspiracy…discriminate ‘positively’ to make up for it….’ I’m sick of hearing it frankly. It’s hard to get a TC! Yes, for white men too. It’s hard to make partner. For white men too. Do you REALLY believe there’s a big conspiracy to keep the profession white and male? That’s laughable. There are more whites in the profession because – sad but true – state education is in rag order. There are far more middle and upper class white people, so more whites in public school. They get better marks, so end up in academic professions like the law. As for women, many have kids. Many stay at home, some go part time. Neither make partner. Those who do, try and balance which is difficult. Some make it. Many don’t. The end. None of which obligates a money-making business to make up for the regrettable fact of society/biology. Now stop complaining and get back to work. You’ll never make partner gassing on thelawyer.com. Reply Link Posh(ish) white bloke 10 June 2008 at 12:48 Education education education I spent four years at a public school in the early 1990s (long story). Naturally it had a lot of kids from well-off families, but by no means were these the only ones: there was also a lot of people who were either entirely or partly assisted with their fees by the state, after qualifying for funding on academic grounds. Many of those kids are now associates and some even partners in City law firms – despite most of them not being white. Another is a doctor, one an architect and several have senior jobs in business. What this shows to my mind is that education is the most important thing for career progression – not being white. However the assisted place scheme has since been abolished by… the Labour government. Three cheers for New Labour! Reply Link Anon. 10 June 2008 at 12:54 Re: Education education education Ditto grammar schools, of course. Reply Link Mrs. Katherine A. Everard 10 June 2008 at 13:54 why is disability always never mentioned/considered Time and time again articles appear in newspapers and journals, particularly legal journals dealing with diversity objectives but none of these ever even mention disability, even though legislation covers disability discrimination. What is going on? When is the legal profession going to sit up and include disabled people? We have brains, we are human beings too, we should not be discounted just because we have disability. Reply Link anonymous 10 June 2008 at 14:13 race as a red herring Whilst I certainly would not dispute that race is a factor (and negative one for minority solicitors) when it comes to recuitment amongst the ‘elite’ in the legal profession, it is mostly a red herring. The likes of the magic and silver circle do employ considerable numbers of solicitors from ethnic minority backgrounds. However, if you meet any such people, they will, without exception, be (very) middle class, almost certainly privately educated, and probably from affluent counties such as Surrey and Suffolk. Low numbers of blacks and Asians in the legal profession is not primarily because of race. It is because of social class. As blacks and Asians are viewed as predominantly working class or lower middle class, this is why the snobs at Freshfields/Links, etc would rather choose more ‘blue-blooded’ types who will know where to buy their shirts from; which restaurants to take clients to and how to behave at charity balls/marketing events, etc. Class, not race, is the main problem. Reply Link Observer 10 June 2008 at 16:34 At last – some sense Can everyone please read the comment from Simone Higgins first. Having read my way down, it will save you a lot of time as it’s full of good sense. Reply Link Roy 10 June 2008 at 16:52 Diversity As a BME, non-legal professional, I am quite disappointed at what I’m reading here. Eversheds may appear to have passed the ‘buck’ – but the fact is Tyco, their client, has actually called ALL recruitment agencies bluff – by demanding a more ‘diverse pool’ of candidates to choose from via their monitoring request. Only when recruiters are brave enough to present more diverse candidates for client consideration and when prospective employers are sensible enough to actually CONSIDER them, will attitudes and staff profiles change. Finally, Re: Simone Higgins’ comments, I would largely agree with them. But to (mischieviously or not) suggest aspiring BME legal eagles, ‘immitate’ arrogant, small screen, middle class male heroes as a way to progress is clearly misguided. The fact is, diversity in the UK’s legal profession needs to improve otherwise its external perception will continue to be erroneously viewed as a preserve of middle class males – and lose out on the undoubted talent that DOES exist beyond the ‘blinkers’ of a narrow selection mindset! Reply Link Wolfgang 10 June 2008 at 17:38 No to enforced diversity One could be flippant and say that all white, middle class males with legal qualifications should just be lined up against walls and shot – that would solve the diversity problem overnight. However, I’d find it refreshing if a top-flight law firm would take the position that when a client with a presumptuous GC starts telling the firm who they have to hire, both the GC and the client will be told they can take their business elsewhere. As a shareholder of a firm like Tyco I’d be VERY concerned that my economic interests are being compromised so political correctness goals can be achieved. And, as a shareholder, I’d be contacting corporate management that unless they want some extremely unpleasant annual meetings or shareholder revolts they’d better stop the diversity nonsense immediately. Reply Link Ben Haider, MD QC Legal 10 June 2008 at 17:55 Diversity and Law I have read the article about diversity and law firms. The fact remains, it is an issue today and will become a bigger issue in years to come. I graduated from the University of Leeds over two decades back, and it was something of an issue then. A failure to heed portent then is what certain firms are victim of now. In an age of increasing diversity it is right for companies like Tyco to demand diversity figures and any law firm that isn’t able to meet ‘minimum’ quotas ought to be deeply embarrassed. This article serves as an excellent opportunity for firms to look at themselves and ask critical client-led questions; the unfortunate aspect is that this was not self administered but has been forced upon firms by their clients. Certain firms are known for having a parochial view in their recruitment process and they will continue to be caught out. I do not condone companies giving hand-outs or royalties to firms that comply; instead, there ought to be penalty for those that do not and have no interest in being more representative and this initiative ought to be Law Society led. Reply Link James Crow 10 June 2008 at 18:07 Tyco: do they or don’t they? The unanswered question here is whether Tyco is prepared to endorse positive discrimination or not. If they want Eversheds to hit a diversity target in a short period of time, the only way to do that is by dragging in as many minorities as possible as quickly as possible. Inevitably that means giving them jobs at least partly on the basis of their minority status instead of their skills. If that’s what Tyco wants, and if that’s what Eversheds is prepared to do, they should both admit it. Reply Link Anonymous 10 June 2008 at 18:08 Diversity I have a question for Nick Root. Can he tell us how compiling these figures for the last four years has helped either his clients’ businesses and/or his own? The only candidates that his company can deal with are those who respond to his adverts. What happens if no-one black or Asian or Jewish or disabled replies to the ad? Does he tell the other applicants that he can’t put them forward as he has his other “quotas” to fill? Does his client refuse to interview the white men so they can keep their diversity figures up? What happens if his client has a disproportionate number of, say, Jewish partners in the firm? In this case, does the WASpish applicant become the “diversity” applicant? You can see how stupid this can all become. Everyone agrees that law firms need to become more diverse. The only way that things can change is by changing their criteria or interviewing methodology when seeking trainees. Everything else is a red herring. Reply Link London recruiter 10 June 2008 at 18:24 a recruiters view As a recruiter, I’ll really work with any candidate who can potentially earn me a recruitment fee. For most large law firms however, this means someone with As/Bs at A-level, a 2.1 from a red brick university, and training/experience with a respected UK firm (or Australian/New Zealand equivalent), which naturally restricts the recruitment pool. While I’m very happy to monitor diversity, if the law firms want to take this issue seriously, they need to do much much more, and take pro-active steps to identify and attract the most talented individuals from more diverse backgrounds (not all bright and capable people can attend the targetted universities for example, or get training contracts with top UK firms). I’m sure most recruiters would happily undertake this initiative in partnership with the firms, provided they are serious about hiring, and not just paying lip service to the diversity concept. Reply Link Anonymous 10 June 2008 at 19:42 Question for questioner of Nick Root That last posting is numbingly obtuse (and no doubt posted by another recruiter). The point of monitoring is not to engage in knee-jerk reactions and engage in positive discrimination. If over a period of time any recruitment agency can see a pattern emerging, it can have a look at itself, the instructions it gets from law firms and its placement techniques to see if anything is being done which – consciously or not – is working against minority candidates. Only then – in co-operation with law firms and involving a lot of small steps – can you address the problem. It’s no good coming up with absurd situations to discredit those who are trying to do something. What EXACTLY do you do? Reply Link Anonymous 10 June 2008 at 21:34 Diversity The answer to this problem does not lie with recruiters, Eversheds or Tyco because the causes of the lack of diversity (particularly with regard to race) have their roots in deeper socio-economic problems. In simple terms, education is a key criterion when it comes to recruitment in the legal profession and, unfortunately, a disproportionate amount of ethnic minorities are socially and economically disadvantaged and thus do not get the same breaks when it comes to education as white middle class kids. One wonders if it is really within the powers of the profession to genuinely influence these issues. However, there are no extenuating circumstances for a lack of diversity on any other grounds. Finally, as a seasoned recruiter, in crude terms, a recruiter wants to make the right placement regardless of any criteria which might be subject to prejudice. It is just not in our interest to do so. Eversheds’ stance fails to recognise that recruiters can only work with the talent available, and because of those deeper lying socio economic factors, that talent pool is too often very white, very male and very middle class. Reply Link Jason B, Headhunter 10 June 2008 at 22:27 Diversity What a can of worms this has opened! Last week I was submitting a candidate to one of my City clients (UK top 10). Part of their online submission system has a section asking us to provide information about ethnic background, sexuality, disability, sex, age etc. I explained that the only reason for the information is to monitor diversity and uphold equal opportunities. On asking my candidate for this information I was greeted with a great deal of suspicion and she did not believe that the information would not be passed on to the screening partners. I was asked why this information couldn’t be asked further down the line, say after an offer. What can I say? This client also asks for date of birth in order to distinguish candidates with the same name. What a crock! Wouldn’t a law society roll number be better? As an earlier recruiter said, it is in our interests to submit any candidate if we think they are up to the job. However, after over ten years in recruitment, experience says that we are usually on a hiding to nothing. Once in a blue moon we place someone with a non-stereotype background but they are the exception. Some clients like to use their KPIs to measure our performance, e.g. measuring the total number of CVs submitted, first interviews and placements. I can go on a moral crusade and submit only ethnic minority CVs but very quickly I will get kicked of preferred supplier lists for failing to meet their targets. I am happy to work with clients to broaden the appeal of firms to candidate populations who would not normally be targeted, but clients need to review their own processes and accept that many of their good intentions and associated processes are actually very off-putting and niave. At the end of the day, I can submit the required information to Eversheds but they need to ask what they will do with it…if they want to achieve their aim, positive discrimination creeps in and that opens yet another can of worms. Have they got the balls to see this one through? Reply Link Eddy 11 June 2008 at 10:27 Recruitment agencies are an end to supplying diverse candidates to companies that requires them, but these are not an end in itself. Tyco wants all recruitment agencies to help in its diversity programme by sending a more diverse pool of candidates to choose. And it also demanded that Eversheds have a similar diversity programme. Both had sought the help of recruitment agencies to help and supply good diversity candidates for them. This should be considered as a good business transection and relationship, like a principal and an agent where all parties can benefit and profit from such transaction. For Tyco and Eversheds to talk about ‘murder’ is not right. With due respect, recruitment agencies are means to an end for them (Tyco and Eversheds) but not an end to their diversity programmes. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 10:31 Answer to questioner of questioner of Nick Root You are right in that I am a recruiter. And you want to know what we do to alleviate the world’s problems? Well, and probably like most recruiters, I work in a company of which you would be proud. Why? Because for our own company, the only thing that matters when recruiting for ourselves, is talent, attitude, collegiality, teamwork etc. So, a quick look around the office shows me that over 50% of our staff are women, two thirds of the senior leadership team are women and 50% of the company could claim to be from an ethnic minority. Can you say the same about your firm? If not, what are you doing about it? In regards to our clients, the only thing that we can do is to point out to departmental heads that there don’t seem to be role models within their teams and, therefore, if they are now looking for another partner, they might want to bear that in mind. We then attempt to find the best people in the market for them regardless of gender, ethnicity or sexual persuasion. What else can we do? Apart from tick a box to keep you, Eversheds and Tyco happy. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 10:43 Diversity targets can warp values Just to add my own experience to the mix, one of my colleagues admitted that he hired one of two equally good candidates because that candidate was Jewish, allowing him to boost his department’s BME statistics. This was despite the fact the candidate in question went to a public school and lived in an expensive area of London – i.e. he was by no means from a deprived background – while the other, an ‘Anglo-Saxon’, was state-educated and came from a rough area of north London. In addition, Jewish people are by no means numerically under-represented in the law. To my mind that wasn’t really about fairness, or about having the best people for the job – Society suffers, and so too, potentially, could the quality of our law firm. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 11:01 how about some facts? The Lawyer article doesn’t say what Eversheds/Tyco are actually asking of agencies – wouldn’t it be useful to have this information or would facts detract from the drama of the article? The REC, the professional body for recruitment agencies, actively encourages its members to adopt practices that support diversity because they recognise the important role agencies have to play. They also offer agencies the opportunity to sign up to a diversity charter – how many legal recruitment agencies have done so? You can check out for yourself at http://www.rec.uk.com/about-recruitment/diversity. Do law firms understand that we must work with the recruitment pool we already have? Of course we do. And we realise that one of the ways of broadening this pool of talent is by encouraging more diversity at the entrant level and raising aspirations of bright kids while they are still at school – this is why many firms are working hard to try to change perceptions of the profession through diversity projects in their local communities and universities. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 11:06 Comments about Jews in the profession Anon at 10:43 has made an unsubstantiated comment about over-representation of Jews in the profession dressed up in hearsay: ‘one of my colleagues admitted…’. Utter crap. And what does this mean: ‘In addition, Jewish people are by no mens (sic) numerically under-represented in the law’. As someone who is Jewish I can tell Anon that I have suffered antisemitism and racism from bigots in law firms I have worked for. If I worked for your firm, no doubt you would be one of those bigots. Reply Link Gil 11 June 2008 at 11:21 Dirversity in law firms Anonymous @10:43: Are you going to resign from your firm now that it and ultimately society at large are going to suffer because of the partner’s alleged recruitment habits? After all, you don’t want to work for a law firm with such a recruitment policy, or do you? Did it not occur to you that the partner might have self-preservation motives for saying what he/she did? You should be ashamed. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 11:36 10.43: let’s clarify In reply to the two responses to my post at 10.43, you have both misinterpreted what I said. Contrary to what you allege, I at no point said that Jewish people are ‘over represented’ in the law (see the comment below for the evidence), or that Jewish people never experience anti-semitism. The point I was making is that the ethnic aspects of diversity priorities are intended to address low numbers of other ethnic groups in the profession, such as people of West Indian or Bangladeshi origin. By contrast, there are large number of Jewish people in the profession – this is not a bad thing, but does mean that Jewish people shouldn’t be favoured above other ethnic groups on the basis of their being Jewish. To remove any doubt, I would be appalled if anyone were to NOT get a job because they are Jewish: that is quite wrong and I condemn it. The point I was making is that in this instance, the Jewish person in question was given an advantage meant for the under-privileged and the disadvantaged, when he was neither, Meanwhile the person who genuinely did face adversity in coming from a rough(ish) background was discriminated AGAINST. That wasn’t fair, nor did it help Society. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 11:40 Are candidates getting a far go? I am a newly-qualified solicitor and have a disability. It took 5 years and over 550 applications to get a training contract. My dream is to work for a top international firm in the city or overseas. My challenge is although I have a 2:1, LPC commendation, post-grad diploma and specialist training in the area I would like to qualify into, I did not train at a top London firm (although I did work as a paralegal at magic/ silver circle firms for 3 years). I have had TWO RECRUITMENT COMPANIES REFUSE TO HELP ME. I see my perfect job on [a well known recruitment website]l and phone for more details, they tell me the firms won’t even look at my CV, and then won’t tell me which firm it is who is recruiting. So I now have to cold call all the firms I am interested in on the off chance it is one of them. When applying for Training Contracts on half my applications I disclosed my disability, while on the other half I didn’t. I only ever got interviews where I had NOT disclosed my disability. You can draw your own conclusions from that. So do you tell firms/recruitment agents about your disability or not? My experience is don’t, unless they ask you something which you can only explain by disclosing it. You can use the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you have disclosed it, but my experience is it doesn’t help. Solutions? Firms should be very careful when providing a candidate wish list to recruitment agents as the agents are discriminating against certain candidates and the firms are never getting to hear about them. I think there should be an investigation into the practices of recruitment agents. My experience is firms are getting better at diversity, and firms such as Herbert Smith are leading the way to ensure there is a level playing field when it comes to diversity. There are also some great HR Managers out there who really do see the skills a disabled person can bring to a firm but it’s the partners who make the ultimate decisions. More awareness is needed across the profession. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 11:47 Comments about commenst about Jews in the profession If Jews are 0.5% of the UK’s population, and there is a higher % than this within a particular law firm, then they are over represented in that firm. That isn’t an anti-Semitic comment. And I also know of major City/international firms that I would not recommend to someone Jewish because of the culture of the place. But most relevantly, that Partner’s comments does show how the diversity profession can have a negative impact. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 12:02 Where’s the diversity of thinking? It’s great to see diversity getting a good airing in The Lawyer, and there’s plenty of interesting, thought-provoking posts, alongside the usual rants that get trotted out every time this topic arises. But for me, all these posts seem to miss something about diversity. It’s not a tick-box exercise, a census exercise nor an end in itself. What diversity should be about is diversity of thought. When everybody thinks and behaves the same (happens a lot in law firms at the moment), everybody tends to agree, so there’s often an absence of constructive challenge or even innovation. All there is, is the same old, same old. If you bring people into a firm from a range of backgrounds, you’re more likely to get proper debate and challenge. It’s this creative tension – and it is a tension – that gets better results. The Wisdom of Crowds is a fantastic book on this topic. Some of its strongest arguments for diversity come from NASA, which it argues was more successful in the 60s and 70s when people came from all walks of life, as opposed to the 80s and 90s, with its string of horrific disasters, which it suggests were the result of years of a graduate entry scheme and hierarchical structure that had honed all employees to think and behave the same, and to avoid challenge. And if you do want diversity of thinking, you need a diversity of people. We all tend to favour people in our likeness (for law firms that has historically been white, middle class, well educated males) – that’s only human nature – so we’re all more likely to recruit people we think will ‘fit’. But if we want to innovate and change a profession that in my view is a bit last century, then we need actively to recruit people who aren’t like us – and we have to be willing to accept the tension that comes with it. Recruiters have to play their part in making this change happen, like it or not, otherwise the profession will never change and grow. It might mean we work in environments that aren’t as comfortable as they are now, but we’ve got to recognise that ‘different’ brings something unique to the table, and shouldn’t be just written off as ‘odd’ or ‘uncomfortable’. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 12:03 Wake up! Why don’t BMEs just get over it. I’m Asian and disabled and managed to get a training contract without any difficulty. The problem is that candidates need to be realistic – you can’t get a degree from an old poly and expect to get a training contract with a top international firm – they will reject you regardless of your sex and skin colour. Rather than spend all their time feeling sorry for themselves, why don’t these people concentrate on improving their CVs? Maybe we can then all move on! Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 12:24 Comment on: ‘Where’s the diversity of thinking’ (12.02) I think that it’s pretty clear from reading some recruiters’ posts what is going on here: These diversity exercises do have an influence on how law firms recruit specific individuals and ‘positive discrimination’ is here whether some like it or not. What is also clear from some posters that the fact that Jews should only have 0.5% representation in law firms because anything more than that is detrimental to ‘Society’ (sic). Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 12:43 Jewish people and diversity The poster at 12.24 has willfully misinterpreted what previous posters have written. The point being made isn’t that more Jewish people in the law is a bad for society or anything else, merely that Jewish people don’t need special help to enter the law in the same way that some other ethnic minorities do, as they are already very well represented in the profession. Reply Link cupid lawyer 11 June 2008 at 13:48 diversity – take it in your own hands If one feels service providers are not up to the set standards, why does one not take the matter in one’s hands? After all what is the point of having well-paid HR managers to implement diversity policies and then outsourcing the whole recruitment process with reluctant providers… Firms end up paying twice : a HR manager and a recruitment firm for an unsatisfactorily result. One has to read recruitment pages to see that diversity is not in service providers (Laurence Simmons all over the place, together with other names…what HR managers are doing in legal firms I wonder…). Maybe Evershed will be able to have diversity taken seriously when its HR manager will recruit directly! Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 14:29 Keep up with the profession recruiters It seems to me that Eversheds are simply trying to deliver what their clients want. In order to do this, they need their recruitment agencies to deliver what they want. If those agencies don’t want to do this then that’s fine – it’s potential lost business and no doubt there are plenty of other recruiters happy to take their place and actually meet their new client’s demands. Maybe profit can be a way of driving positive change on issues such as diversity. Reply Link Anon. 11 June 2008 at 15:30 But what IS it that they want? Further to the post at 14.29, I agree completely with your point about meeting client demand. But what neither Tyco nor Eversheds has offered any clarification on is how diversity is actually going to be achieved. Counting minority numbers doesn’t achieve anything other than the creation of a long list of numbers – where will they take it from there? Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 16:08 Re 14:29pm Successful recruitment companies, like the one I work for, do give their clients what they want – within reason. We cannot magic qualified lawyers from minority groups out of thin air. As other people have pointed out, recruiters can only work with the talent that is out there… unfortunately due to massive flaws in the education system (which consistently fails those from under privileged and minority backgrounds – particularly black males) there are not enough QUALIFIED lawyers from these groups to recruit from. Until Law firms change their policies in recruiting trainees then this situation WILL NOT CHANGE. Successful recruitment is about managing candidate and client expectations. A client may demand a magic circle lawyer with top academics for their role, and they may want to pay them peanuts, but the recruiter is going to struggle to find someone who fits the bill. Likewise a client may want a number of qualified minority lawyers but if those people don’t exist, or are not looking to move, then there is sod all the recruiter can do about it. I suggest the legal profession get their own house in order before attacking others. My workplace is a very diverse environment and is all the better for it. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 16:11 About time While I was working at Eversheds I last year I did not feel that it was a culture which welcomed diversity. Being gay I could not feel myself and, as there is a fairly strong Christian presence, no encouragement that I ever should be. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 16:38 But what IS it that they want? From what I know of Eversheds, they believe in the ‘if you can measure it then you can manage it’ … a bit like most businesses …. if you class yourself as being a business, that is! Maybe they’d like these diversity stats from recruiters so they can see which agencies are actually most effective in supplying good minority candidates from a variety of backgrounds. I would assume that the next stage would then be to use these agencies to get the people that they want. I can’t see anything wrong in asking suppliers to prove their credentials. Perhaps if recruiters weren’t so busy kicking off on the subject and actually asked law firms what they as their clients need, then we might get somewhere. Reply Link Alfonzo 11 June 2008 at 16:44 What to expect For some minorities, it’s only to be expected that they will be disproportionately under-represented. For example, black males make up I would guess about 3% (very roughly) of the UK population, but perform the worst at school (statistically) so it’s to be expected that many law firms may have fewer than 3% of black male lawyers. However, this does have a flipside: women do much better at school so there probably should be more women entering the law. However, that assumes that as many woman are as interested as entering the law as men. If it turns out that a higher proportion of talented men try to enter the law, then maybe it’s OK that men make up a disproportionaltely large number of lawyers. But I wonder if it’s a bit harsh to blame recruiters. I was a recruiter once and as we only cared about the commission, we would always send forward the best, most well qualified candidates for a job. I’d be surprised if Eversheds or whoeveer were rejecting good candidates simply on skin colour. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 16:57 Equally Bad Treatment Well, I am middle-class, white, public school educated, with a First Class Oxbridge degree…and Eversheds still rejected me. Hurrah! Eversheds treats everyone equally badly! Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 17:10 Diversity How can a recruiter deliver diversity when there isn’t any diversity in the candidate pool? For example, I am currently conducting a headhunt assignment in a particular area of law. Of the 100 or so qualified candidates, only 35% are women and only one is from an ethnic minority. So how do I deliver greater diversity and deliver a qualified candidate? I would submit a green, three-eyed bisexual Martian if they were a qualified Solicitor with sufficient following (and if anyone knows one, please reply on the blog), so I would LOVE to offer more diversity, however there simply is not a sufficiently diverse pool from which to select. Yes recruiters can do more to consult with firms on improving diversity, we can do more to monitor diversity, but to suggest that we are in any way a cause of the problem is not an accurate reflection of the situation. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 17:33 Eversheds’ Demands Diveristy As a well qualified black associate currently working at a top law firm in the City, I know my partners and colleagues alike do not quite acknowledge that I have a right to be here just as much as they do. Fact is, most law firms in the UK are clueless as to what ‘diversity’ really means and quite frankly do not know how to deal with ‘black’ or other diverse lawyers and I ended up feeling like a fish out of water and it does make me sad and angry as I want to be judged for my work alone, not how I look or how I ‘fit in’. This is a big problem for the UK private practice community,and it is shameful that in 2008 that majority of our law firms do not reflect any sort of diversity (that our society does). There’s no excuse, the partners have to lead the way and set the standard, yet they do not. I applaud Tyco as if not for clients like these, we would be non-existent in UK law firms. However I have no respect for firms increasing their minority intake just to please clients. The clients will see through it, they need to take some notes from US law firm which, while not perfect, at least have a respectful number of minority associates and shockingly, minority partners too! We can and must do better. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 17:49 Black British and non-British black I agree wholeheartedly with anyone who says there ought to be greater representation of minority groups in the profession: this is only fair. However I would like to raise one smaller point relevant to the debate which I find confuses the issue, and that is unfair to many black Britons. This is that there is a distinct difference between Black Britons – black people who are born in the UK and who are part of its culture and understand its values – and new immigrants from Africa or the West Indies. While there is no reason why a black Briton is any less qualified to work in a law firm than a white one, the truth is that this is often not the case with members of the second group (recent immigrants), who sometimes do not understand the cultural norms of British colleagues and clients, and for whom sometimes English is a second language. However the rules of political correctness do not allow us to make this distinction, forcing employers to lump black Britons in the same group as all black people in Britain. The net result of this is that a degree of (unfair) negative association with both groups. The same might well also be true of Asian Britons and recent immigrants from Asia, though I have no experience of this personally. Reply Link A magic circle lawyer with a disability 11 June 2008 at 18:01 Social engineering… Enforced diversity measures like this are attempts at social engineering, plain and simple. Attempting to gerrymander who is a winner and who is a loser by foisting quotas on the ‘buy side’ (i.e. the employer and its agents) nearly always fails, as the market finds ways around it. Furthermore this just lets the ‘sell side’ (i.e. the God-awful British education system) off the hook. The real reason there are diversity issues (whether on a class or race basis) is down to the failure of British education policy, particularly in the inner cities. Funnily enough I work in a Magic Circle firm and it is actually an incredibly diverse place. There is a huge racial and class mix. But, interestingly, most non-white lawyers are not British – they come from Australia, India, China, the US, Malaysia, South Africa etc (actually most of the white lawyers aren’t British either, as they are all from Australasia, but we will ignore that). Doesn’t that tell you something? The issue, at least at my firm, isn’t an unwillingness to embrace diversity: the issue is that British society doesn’t produce the goods other than in very limited sections of the community (how many white working class female lawyers do you find in the City?). It will be interesting to see how Eversheds and Tyco go about trying to square that circle. Reply Link Determined 11 June 2008 at 18:06 Opinions please…how would I fare? I am a white, female, lower middle class, state school educated qualified journalist converting to law. My parents could have afforded to privately school me but sent me to a (highly reputable) state school as they believed I would get a better grounding there. I got A’s and B’s at A level. I turned down an offer to read English at Cambridge to do the most highly respected journalism degree in the country at Bournemouth Media School, one of the best media schools in Europe, but part of Bournemouth University formed out of an old Poly. I just missed out on a first as I contracted glandular fever in my final year. Rather than file and photocopy as a legal assistant in a law firm, I hold down a demanding and respected full time job as a fraud investigator to get practical legal and business experience and handle my own caseload. I did my GDL part time at BPP but just missed out on a commendation as I couldn’t devote as much time to it as I wanted due to my 50 hour working week. I cannot do work experience or vacation schemes as I do not have the annual leave available. I start my LPC (again part time) in September and am applying to mid-large media type firms in the City (Olswang, Harbottle & Lewis etc) with a view to using my industry training and experience to practice media law. Despite having the skills, abilities, business acumen, practical legal experience, caseload management experience, media experience, A level results, class and ‘right’ skin colour, I appear to have the wrong sex, schooling, university, degree/GDL results and law firm experience. What exactly would they make of me? Reply Link Doggieleesburg 11 June 2008 at 18:26 Advice for Determined I’d try and find that Cambridge offer letter if I were you… The old “I could have gone to Oxbridge but went to [x] for the course” is a route too well trodden by minor public school failures to elicit any sympathy! Reply Link AnyOldPoly 11 June 2008 at 18:29 …and smell the coffee To the anonymous Asian, disabled poster (entitled Wake Up!), well done you on what you have achieved. However you do BME candidates a disservice by suggesting that we are (a) all polytechnic graduates and (b) deluding ourselves that this would qualify us for a top-flight training contract. As a black, female, Cambridge-educated senior associate at a City firm, I can assure you neither is true. This angle of the diversity question begins well before the training contract application process. Candidates from less privileged backgrounds tend to have poorer schooling, be presented with fewer higher education opportunities and so will fall at the first hurdle. Granted, those with particular ability will overcome such hurdles, however not everyone is so fortunate. This trend holds true for less privileged children of all ethnicities and so could be categorised as a class question. It is a complex issue and posters such as yourself with unconstructive comments who seek to trivialise it at the expense of Black and Minority Ethnic applicants do little to progress this debate. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 18:47 Too much lipservice, very little substance I come to this discussion as a female, disabled mature entrant to the legal profession who has seen life in the law firm, chambers and on the bench. I had a decent career before that which took me into a wide range of working environments. Not even whilst working with the Police did I observe the lack of diversity that I am sorry to say exists across the legal profession. And as other sensible colleagues have pointed out, the problem often starts in education establishments. I attended decent rural schools where there was a push towards university (so many of us could escape from Hicksville) and even the odd kid in care was not written off. At university I witnessed disability discrimination from some law tutors who frankly should know better. I had to fight with a certain university to be able to complete written papers on a computer because of a mobility disability. Last year whilst mentoring a disabled law student I had to fight her corner on the same issue. Another student encountered a set of chambers who tried to insist that a disabled applicant submit a hand written application rather than a typed one. To swing that concession, the applicant’s disability had to be declared. No interview was offered. At interviews in Chambers my peers were asked “are you married and do you have children?” Mature female applicants with children did not feel they could declare their family life. Mature applicants were told they were “too old.” Disabled applicants often do not feel able to declare their disability. Only very recently has the Bar Council asked how many of its members are disabled. A colleague who sits on a diversity committee for a certain regulatory body openly says that he advises his chambers not to accept disabled applicants so as to avoid the reasonable adjustment “issues.” At a certain law firm senior partners shouted out “gay lord fucker” and “rug-muncher”. Disabled colleagues were referred to as “flid” or “spaz,” and “jokes” played on them such as their adaptations interfered with to cause distress. Our female trainee was chased down the office by a senior partner shouting “cor look at the ar*e on that.” The same senior partner felt that the name Quentin was reflective of someone’s sexuality. The Court Service has its own diversity issues with legally qualified civil servants questioning if a disabled member of the judiciary is effective because s/he uses a laptop to get around disability. I am not proud of the legal profession’s delivery record on diversity. There seems to be much lip service and very little substance. Thankfully, in my experience, the clients have only been impressed with the fact that my reliance on technology not only gets around my disability but also delivers what they need in less time and saves them money. I try to do what I can to help disadvantaged applicants into the profession. I mentor disabled students and I provide work experience for disabled applicants to the profession. I take on nasty discrimination cases on a pro bono basis. I have joined a programme to go into a less glamorous inner city school and help where I can there. I challenge those who lack diversity. For those colleagues out there who, like me, have overcome the odds, I ask that you actively help at least one disadvantaged person into the profession. Reply Link Ron Jordan, Chair, Carter-White & Shaw/Diverse Attorney Recruiters-USA 11 June 2008 at 20:19 Get mad at the client, when the UK recruiting community is not diverse at all… I have had the opportunity to read the comments from all those that have weighed in on this issue, but none of the commentators has a leg to stand on. Most of you are not diverse attorneys, so it can be said with bluntness, that you have no idea about what you are talking about except to be negative. Nuff said! As for the legal recruiting agencies, they do have a issue with the Evesheds, if the firms are not willing to interview candidates of colour from 2nd tier law schools, which by the way, many BMEs attend and if the firm is not reaching out to those schools on their own, then Eversheds is just moving their lips on diversity and trying to appease Tyco and other corporations that will reward them with a bonus. The legal recruiting industry in the UK has a poor record in their own recruiting efforts, concerning their lack of diverse legal recruiting professionals within their own ranks. It would seem to me at least (a plug here), that Eversheds and other Magic Circle firms would be better served by finding a legal search firm that specializes in diversity recruiting, thus saving everybody time and effort. Eversheds, should also look at their global numbers, not just in London, for a inclusive and diverse environment for all their attorneys. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 20:45 Tyco, Eversheds and diversity Eversheds are doing that that a major client is asking of them, and prepared to pay for the service demanded. They are in business and have made a business decision to pursue this route. On the other hand, why does or should Tyco care about diversity of its suppliers employees? What is more, what has driven them to demand this service and be prepared to pay for it? They must think this provides some added-value to it as an organisation, or else they wouldn’t do it. I would be interested to know what has driven Trevor Faure of Tyco to spend his organisation’s money on this initiative. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 21:59 Diversity How sad? Almost everyone is justifying their corner. It is true, there is a need for diversity. It needs to be addressed, but is in the power of those that recruit at training contract level. “Bias rules OK!.” It does! Me? Older woman who qualified. Served as a paralegal and demanded a training contract. “Isn’t she wonderful” were the comments of doubters, and “she is so good at marketing”. Not surprising after ten years in that environment, plus other skills?. Most of my interviewers didn’t see its relevance! I went to an ex-poly. I had a mortgage! It was near my home. Came out with no debt ! I was awarded a prize (half of my law school fees). I am not dumb. I worry it is harder today than when I studied. We are not going to be ‘diverse’ in our make-up, with university fees imposed. Makes you wonder what the relevance of ‘university ‘ is to diversity. And red brick students knew less of the old ‘latin’ stuff that the equity partners embraced, than me. But those students knew a lot about history! I love my job. I am good at it. Clients love me! I have worked in their environment. It is an unusual quality, which is of inestimable value to a client. Blowing my trumpet! So what? I am not perfect, but broaden your perspective if you dare..but I fear that most of the profession is at risk, because it has not moved quickly enough, and does not know how to embrace diversity. Providing a service takes all sorts – background, education, etc… think of your clients! We don’t all need to be the same. And if we do, that only strangles diversity. Reply Link Anonymous 11 June 2008 at 23:08 education, qualifications and diversity There is a lack of reality to some assumptions that BME candidates lack qualifications. The majority of black people in London are now of African origin and have on average 2 degrees. Finally my experience with [well known software company] clinches it for me… my first tech support engineer was a local English man with no degree, my second was of Indian origin with a degree, and the third was of African origin with masters degree in computer science.. go figure. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 03:01 This is discrimation by Eversheds White heterosexual males at Eversheds should move on – it is inevitable that they are going to suffer from this “positive discrimination” and all the slots for promotion will be allocated, to a material extent, on race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. So with two equal candidates (or even unequal!) for the same position, they will be victims of discrimination – I hope someone sues. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 09:01 Diversity The reason why diversity has become a big issue in law firms in England is because their American and other international clients are demanding it They must not pretend it is because they are being generous or suddenly have a conscience. They have for decades operated in a world of their own and could not care a damn about diversity. Even now diversity is just another factor to do with economics and nothing else.It is too easy to blame the recruiters when in fact they operated racist policies on behalf of their clients. Matters will not change much and the diversity argument is a diversion from them tackling the real issue in that partners in large firms, especially in the cities, create their partnerships in their images and until they have a complete mind change nothing will change. In some of the larger firms they have created some ethnic minority partners who then become the mouthpiece of these firms to tell the wider world they have vibrant equality policies and these poor misguided fools are being used to engage in spreading their firms’ propaganda. The reported spat between Eversheds and its client will not make any difference and minorities will still not have the equal opportunities these large firms pretend they have in place to ensure all potential applicants have equal chances. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 09:33 It will never happen-its all talk I have been hearing about equality and diversity for years. It’s all talk. I work in a legal department in a public sector organisation. We have many women at the top but how many of our managers/team leaders are from ethnic minority backgrounds hardly any. How many on senior management board none. Yet the figures/management speak make it sound like all the equality and diversity targets are being met! I hear about big city firms recruiting Asian Lawyers from their home countries. There are plenty of British Asians who speak both languages fluently and understand both cultures but the candidates are selected from abroad. Unless I am missing something surely this can’t be right. I am just thinking about the other job adverts I see in the Gazette where they are looking for a French and English speaking candidate with a relocation package. I never see job adverts placed in the Gazette saying looking for Hindi/Punjabi and English speaking candidate. I never see those job adverts in the British Press. Apparently I am told these adverts are seen in the press abroad. So am I meant to assume that big city firms do not realise that there is big pool of British Asian candidates or perhaps they are just blind to their existence. Why is Eversheds leading on this, is it because they really want to make a change or is it the fear of losing Tyco. It like Eversheds are being coerced into doing so. Where were Eversheds all these last few years, Diversity issues have been kicking around for years now? There are plenty of ethnic minorities who would like to apply to a big city firm but unfortunately feel like they are banging on a closed door. Or when they get somewhere they feel like the only ethnic minority in the organisation. People ask them things like where is home or when was the last time they went home, because home obviously can’t be somewhere in Birmingham, Manchester or London, home is taken to mean the country of origin. Public sector or big city firms its all the same. Your face needs to fit! Like everybody else I am waiting for a change for the better. Change has taken place in America with Obama’s victory over Hilary Clinton, so there might still be hope for the British Legal profession! Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 09:35 Diversity – more lipservice Labelling the lack of ‘ethnic minorities’ in the profession is typical of the way we whitewash and label things that are inconvenient and uncomfortable to deal with. However, there are times when those in the profession should bear the torch of integrity and simply call a spade a spade. The fact is that the profession is ridden with gruesome ‘screening’ and ‘initiation’ procedures which see one’s life infiltrated – aspirations toyed with by racism, sexism, other discrimination, abuse of power and ‘pretentious’ snobbery of the highest order. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 10:17 Ron Jordan Ron Jordan – you are talking absolute bunkum. Most of the legal recruiters here are certainly more diverse than the law firms they service. Many are run by women, most have Asian and other minority groups represented within their ranks. On the other hand, it’s impossible to tell from your website who your colleagues are, as you are clearly the only one important enough to be on it! More importantly, being a “diversity legal recruiter” specialist in the UK market will mean that your business would soon go bust! You can’t move them if they ain’t there! Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 10:43 Diversity – a real issue or a quota? Having reached third interview at a leading firm for a rather interesting role, the wonderfully PC person in HR requested that I pretend to be gay so that they could meet their diversity targets and offer me the role. I declined the request, as a white male, happily married to a woman with two children I refuse to hide the fact that I am not diverse enough to obtain a role – especially in a profession where the defence of the truth is paramount. I feel that the real issue here is that candiates with the most suitable skills and relevant experience are being ignored and rejected to allow firms to be seen as diverse. I remember the days when recruiters were more interested in skills, experience and the value a person could add to a firm than their orientation. Also, I am sure that the clients would prefer to know that the person working on their behalf has been selected based on skills and experience rather than orientation, quota or PC/PR requirements. Reply Link Average white band 12 June 2008 at 11:00 Positive discrimination: another aspect Further to the post below and to some of the previous ones, many advocates of positive discrimination have not considered another important aspect of it: the potential lashback. I believe that the majority of white people in England and Wales, at least in theory, are in favour of everyone having an equal shot at getting into the law regardless of colour, disability or sexual orientation. I believe that this reflects a tradition of fairplay in this country that it is one of the few genuine reasons to be patriotic. However it is that same sense of fairplay that will be offended if people find that they have been discriminated against because they are white, heterosexual or able-bodied. The risk then is that a broadly positive attitude to diversity that exists currently could turn very sour. Given that while the number of non-Anglo Saxon people in England and Wales is growing, Anglo Saxons remain the biggest ethnic group, if Anglo-Saxons turned against the diversity movement that would be a very big problem for people who are from minority groups, and set back the positive change of recent years. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 11:19 Finally law firms are wising up! The level of ignorance displayed in some of these comments is outstanding! Firstly, positive discrimination is illegal in the private sector and therefore Eversheds are certainly not discriminating against anyone, they are merely applying a form of positive action which encourages people from diverse backgrounds to enter the profession. Secondly, the monitoring being required by the recruitment agencies is around the candidates they are putting forward to their clients, not about the diversity of the recruitment agencies themselves! And thirdly, it is a ridiculous notion that organisations which ask their agencies to produce diverse candidate lists are in any way not still going to be a meritocracy. They will no doubt still take the best candidate, but at least they will be given a choice of candidates from different backgrounds to choose from. Organisations are simply asking agencies to cast the net wider so that they are more likely to get different types of talented people rather than the same types of people which ultimately restricts innovation and therefore business. Surely anyone with a basic understanding of maths can see that if you look at 1000 candidates from 10 top universities rather than 300 candidates from the top 3 universities, the probability of getting better candidates increases?! In my view Eversheds are not actually doing enough! They should have thought about doing this before being pressurised by a client. But the demographics of our client base are changing and so we were bound to start getting requests from clients to sort our own ships out. So much research has recently been done about the business of benefits of diversity eg. leadership teams which are 50% men and 50% women are more likely to be innovative and are definitely more productive. But skewing the ratio with more men or even more women, greatly reduces productivity. It is no wonder that law firms are starting to follow in the fine footsteps of other City organsiations which started looking at diversity as a business priority years ago. Ultimately, all that Eversheds is really asking recruitment agencies to do is to look further afield for talent and to bear diversity at the back of their minds before putting forward candidate lists with no or little diversity. It is simply asking for monitoring because all business priorities are measured, otherwise how do you know if you are actually making progress?! Diversity is clearly a business priority and law firms finally have to wise up to this fact. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 11:34 This sensitive issue has been blown out of proportion! This continuing debate on the diversity issue is bad for Eversheds and for its relationship with Tyco. Its leaders must take steps to close this issue and re-open the diversity topic by taking the first step to prioritise it as one of its mission to be a top law firm in this changing legal environment. This issue is really between Tyco, the recruitment agencies and Eversheds itself. It should not be blown out of proportion. Eversheds should acknowledge the fact that the recruitment agencies are professional agencies or suppliers to its diversity programme. Any good candidate sent by them and if engaged should be trained to fit into its diversity initiatives and programme. Even though one is successful this in itself is an achievement and success for its diversity destination. This would also strengthened its business relationship with Tyco. Reply Link Ron Jordan, Chair, Carter-White & Shaw/Diverse Attorney Recruiters-USA 12 June 2008 at 11:52 Ron Jordan To say that diverse attorney recruiting would go bust in the UK is horse manure! The lack of creativity and the lack of ability to reach outside the borders of your own existience is the major reason that UK legal seach agencies are in this jam in the first place, much like the firms you all serve. Take a lesson and one is well learned, take the heat, find new ways of attracting first tier BME and women to your client firms. I have have met with legal search agencies when I am in London, not once did I find, a “black legal search” professional that headed a legal search agencies, in fact there are just a few here in the States. Again, look inwardly and fix your own internal organizations, once you have a multicultural firm, then the world’s attorneys of color will beat a path to your door. Eversheds be damned, the problem lies with them, but as outside vendors, you are paid to provide: stop crying and do your job. Also, don’t attack unless you can be honest and straightforward enough to use your name and organization. In closing, my name is featured on my site because I was the first diverse attorney recruiter in the U.S. Yes, I was told back in 1991 that most likely than not I would fail – I did not and could not, since our industry was not very likely at the time to employ a person of color, so I started my own, which is very successful. I stick by my comments and I am grateful for yours. Continued success to all, but if you all do not step to the plate or pitch, you will be a spectator or outside looking in. Peace. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 12:22 to 11.00 am- average white band I am extremely surprised at the anger in your tone. I cannot believe you have just said what you have. This is not about some majority Anglo Saxon group turning against a diverse group as per your note .This debate is simply about ethnic minorities being given an equal chance in the job market. Please do not deviate from the issue. What you have said is very destructive and comments like this make you sound very ignorant. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 12:33 Re: post at 11am, by Average White Band Regarding Average White Band’s post at 11am, while I don’t agree with his or her viewpoint, the poster at 12.22 in response has failed to recognise what the post was actually about. What the post was about wasn’t the issue of BMEs getting a fair chance generally, but specifically about so-called ‘positive discrimination’, in which jobs are reserved specifically for people from minorities (i.e. non-minority candidates have no chance of getting them). That is something specific within the diversity debate which even many BME people disagree with. Reply Link jonathan glass 12 June 2008 at 12:45 Ron Jordan I run a legal search company in the UK. I have been following this debate with interest since the article was printed on Monday. If I look at the last few research documents that we have put together for clients, they have covered the following sectors: real estate, project finance, corporate recovery and corporate. The firms researched all fall within the top 100 UK and US law firms based in London. Each assignment covers between 20 and 40 firms and between 80-250 partners are researched in depth. A quick analysis shows the number of partners that fall under the BME banner within each research document: Restructuring -2 Projects – 7 Real Estate – 9 Corporate – 3 So Ron, what does this tell us? It clearly shows our clients that regardless of their and our good intentions, we can not produce for them lawyers that do not currently exist within their peer firms. In regards to our own staff, we can only hire from those that make applications to us. So we have a pretty mixed team – more women than men, Jews, Arab, African and Zoroastrian. We even have white men – both posh and working class, from the South and from the North! Not bad for a small company! Maybe your search company is as diverse as ours? Or maybe it isn’t? We don’t make a song and a dance about our mixed team because they are only working here for one reason – they are all very good and talented. And that’s why our clients use us. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 13:34 Ron Jordan I think what Ron in his last paragraph is trying to say is “if you aren’t prepared to face a West Indies attack bowling outswingers with a new ball at Trent Bridge on a seaming pitch when cloud cover is heavy, then you should call for your sweater and go and field at long leg.” Reply Link Douglas from Edinburgh, a law firm client 12 June 2008 at 13:51 Diversity Which law firms are Stonewall Diversity champions? Shame on those who are not! Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 14:08 comments on post 11 am+ 12.33, average white man Which places have been reserved for BMEs? I have never heard of something so ridiculous. All the BMEs would be applying for these jobs if they existed. Please name a few in the legal job market please . Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 14:21 Re the last post Positive discrimination does not yet happen, but is being speculated about because it seems the likely outcome of Eversheds having to hit diversity targets by a certain deadline. As evidenced by that and your response to ‘average white man’ not ‘band’, you haven’t being paying attention! Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 14:38 re last post So if places are not currently being reserved for BMEs why are there claims that they are? What difference does it make if the poster has said man instead of band . Is that the best comment you can make on the last post. I despair,I really do. Reply Link Doggieleesburg 12 June 2008 at 15:55 Statistics throw some light on the subject The 2001 UK census broke the population down as follows: White 92.1%, Mixed 1.2%, Black 2.0%, Asian 4.0%, Chinese 0.4%, Other 0.4%. The total non-white poplulation is therefore 7.9% of the UK population. Eversheds get payments if more than 10 per cent of its 2009 trainee intake are from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds; and if more than 10 per cent of Eversheds’ staff are BME. So Tyco are in fact seeking for BMEs to be over-represented at Eversheds. Surely that MUST require positive discrimination, particularly if Eversheds aren’t meeting these targets already? I am intrigued as to what “minority” means. Do non-UK nationals count regardless of their colour, for example? If it does they could just hire lots of Australians… Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 16:16 BME Focus Pointing out the obvious – diversity is not just about BMEs. It is specifically intended to include, among others, disabled and LGBT lawyers. BME’s make up about 5% of the population, LGBTs make up a larger portion of the population and an even larger portion of law students – but face acute discrimination, especially in offshore law firms. There is a post below about hiring practices in Cayman. It’s true: LGBT face terrible prejudices in offshore Caribbean jurisdictions. I should be surprised that The Lawyer has never tackled this issue, but then I appreciate how much money these offshore firms contribute to The Lawyer in their regular offshore special reports. Large onshore firms are happy to ignore the issue, as diversity flies out the window when tax savings are in issue. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 16:21 Re Statistics Do you really think that Eversheds are basing their activities on stats that are seven years old?! Err – no I don’t think so! Lots of more recent research has broken down the total UK population to approximately 10-11% BME. In any case, law firms and other organisations need to reflect their communities within which they are based! For example London, Leeds and Birmingham are a lot more diverse than other cities. In London alone, ethnic minorities make up 29% of the 8 million population (ORC Feb 2008), so unless law firms better reflect the BME population in their workforce they will ultimately lose out on BME business. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 16:36 Re: post at 12-Jun-2008 @ 12:22PM You’re missing the point when you say “This debate is simply about ethnic minorities being given an equal chance in the job market.” Diversity about minorities being given am equal chance in the job market – and “minority” is not the same as “ethnic minority”. You seem to be trying to make other minorities invisible – shame on you. Reply Link Dogggieleesburg 12 June 2008 at 17:09 Reply to “Re Statistics” You say “law firms and other organisations need to reflect their communities within which they are based”. Does this mean you’d be happy to see a nearly 100% white firm in, say, Exeter and for that firm to discriminate accordingly? Of course not. Arguing on the basis of supposed “communities” is self-serving bunkum, and is the sort of argument that gives the diversity lobby a really bad name. It does minority candidates a real disservice. You can define the “community” in which City firms in lots of ways. There is SE England for a start (just think of all those people who commute into London). That would change the %’s quite a bit. Then there is the “community” of international financial centres. That would also change the %’s quite a bit. I’d also note that “community” as you define would also mean that the majority of lawyers should not have a degree, and a large chunk wouldn’t have A levels either. Is that a proposition you seriously want to put forward? Reply Link Eleanor Williams - Darwin Gray LLP 12 June 2008 at 17:11 Diversity….again As a female lawyer who happens to be disabled, I am amused by the buck-passing attitude of clients blaming lawyers blaming recruiters blaming society. Let’s all just get back to work shall we? Perhaps we should strive for a legal environment that mirrors the environment of our community instead of fostering an artificial blame culture. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 17:13 Post at 16:21PM To the poster at 16:21. You say “so unless law firms better reflect the BME population in their workforce they will ultimately lose out on BME business.” Could you let us know whether this BME business employs at least 90 per cent non BME as well as the appropriate percentages of disabled and gay employees, or does diversity not apply to minority businesses? Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 18:27 What is positive discrimination I find it staggering the number of comments suggesting that positive discrimination is somehow new. Positive discrimination in favour of men has been around for centuries. This is true all over the world and continues to be the case. I work in a law firm and have witnessed one of the most astonishing incidents imaginable of positive discrimination in favour of a male. This discrimination was carried out by a woman with the full support of the male partnership. The fact that all the women left the department within ten months of this discrimination doesn’t appear to bother anyone. Do men really think that any success they have achieved is due solely to merit? All this nonsense about selecting people according to merit – why? that’s rarely happened before. It must be hard to have the privilege that you have always taken for granted put under the spotlight and questioned. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 18:31 Re Statistics You say “law firms and other organisations need to reflect their communities within which they are based”. I was at my local Indian restaurant (i.e. the Indian restaurant based in my community) on Friday and I noticed that all the staff were Asian! This may shock you. I was certainly enraged by the lack of diversity of a business in my community. Applying your logic, are you suggesting that I and other non-Indians should not eat there because they are not employing staff that represent their community? I’m sure no poor Tyco employee is eating there. I would not like to be a white lawyer at Eversheds – the future would be bleak. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 18:33 Re: post before last (18.27) That’s not what positive discrimination means. You have missed the point of that entire thread. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 18:36 Poster at 18:27PM So, are you saying that positive discrimination that favours men is now OK if there is positive discrimination that favours other groups, or are you trying to make the point that all positive discrimination should be done away with? Your contention is not clear. Reply Link Anonymous 12 June 2008 at 20:50 Re: ‘What is positive discrimination’ @18:27 Not only have you missed the point of this thread as another poster has said, you also appear to have a major problem with men. To read this sweeping statement ‘Do men really think that any success they have achieved is due solely to merit?’ makes me hope that you are not a lawyer. To redress the balance: I used to work for a law firm where I had to compete with the female lawyer for work, and ultimately billable hours. The female associate manipulated the situation against me to obtain the best and most profitable work because she knew that the firm wouldn’t want a sex discrimination case bought against them. The firm were afraid to tackle her. Reply Link Anonymous 13 June 2008 at 10:37 Diversity: a responsibility shared? Broadly speaking I am supportive of diversity initiatives, as I support any initiative that seeks to make things more fair. However an unspoken truth about many issues that involve discrimination against minorities is that it is only the white majority ethnic group that feels that they have any responsibility in this area. In part, of course, this reflects reality: it is necessarily the biggest and most dominant group that must make sure it includes smaller ones. However under the auspice of ‘respecting other cultures,’ a blind eye is turned to all sorts of discrimination by minority groups against other minority groups that would not be tolerated if it was happening among the majority. Examples include the oppression of women by husbands and fathers in the Bangladeshi community; gross homophobia among the Jamaican community and among Muslims; and a widespread anti-Semitism among many minority groups, in particular Muslims. I think this topic merits more discussion than it is generally allowed, and would welcome seeing it here. Reply Link Jason B, Headhunter 13 June 2008 at 11:01 Diversity encouraged Just looking at the vacancies listed by Norton Rose. One of them is for a competition lawyer in Brussels. In the description it says that the “ideal candidate will be able to demonstrate – English as a first language”. Can someone from NR explain why this is so important? This smacks of blatant discrimination and given that this area of law has a particularly international nature, surely the best candidates will be fluent in a couple of languages with it not mattering which is the ‘first’. As a recruiter with a strong international focus I love that in my job, in just a couple of hours, I can speak to people in Frankfurt, Paris, London, Tokyo etc. I am also proud to be British and especially proud that so many people from overseas are attracted to the idea of working for a UK based international law firm. However, I am left embarrassed and struggling for a proper answer when clients insist on English as a first language. I’ve had other clients say this and their explanations don’t hold water. Anyone from practice want to try and defend this? Reply Link Anonymous 13 June 2008 at 14:48 Re: Norton Rose job@11:01 After having looked at the job description in question, it may have been written by a non-native English speaker, perhaps someone in their Brussels office. This is evident from the poor attention paid to grammar. Perhaps they need someone whose first language is English to write job adverts? More to the point, perhaps the recruiter could try and tease out from clients what they actually mean when specifying this language requirement to ensure that the client isn’t making a fool of himself/herself. Reply Link Jason B, Headhunter 13 June 2008 at 15:21 English as a First language I did ask a client (NOT Norton Rose) why they stipulated English as a first language. The HR manager explained that they had a lot of US clients and when calling London there was a perceived kudos in speaking with a native English lawyer. I had a couple of non-English candidates for this role and still presented them because they had the right mix of skills and experience. Of course, no interviews for them! Perhaps instead of spending their hard earned euros on the QLTT, they would be better served going to a voice coach and learning a bit of received pronunciation. Reply Link N. Duncan 13 June 2008 at 17:00 Native English Further to the last post at 15.21 (‘English as a first language’), your experience illustrates a wider point about diversity in the law, which is that not all culture share the Western enthusiasm for it. When I worked in the Middle East for a mid-tier firm around 2001, some of our Arab clients would (politely) refuse to deal with a black associate who had come out from London. Naturally this wasn’t his fault or the firm’s, but eventually he was transferred back to the UK because he was held back from progressing as a result. Equally, female lawyers were significantly restricted in their dealings in the region, always having to be accompanied by a male lawyer when meeting clients. And I never worked with a gay colleague when stationed there, but I doubt he or she would have been able to be open about it! Reply Link A - female lawyer 13 June 2008 at 17:32 Discrimination Discrimination does exist, but it is not as common as people like to make out. It is also not, as an earlier poster pointed out, restricted to white people. The only racist person I have ever come across in my professional life was black. Whilst I don’t agree with discrimination, I also don’t agree with positive discrimination because any kind of discrimination is wrong. It should all be merit-based, quotas are ridiculous in my view. Reply Link Mm 15 June 2008 at 01:43 Jews in the Legal Profession Since when are Jews classified as an ethnic minority? I always thought Judaism was a religion, thus being perfectly possible to be 100% White British yet Jewish in beliefs?! Reply Link Anonymous 16 June 2008 at 09:14 Positive action, please! Please can we get this right? Positive discrimination is illegal. In any case it would, and does, generate the kind of backlash that we have seen here. Positive action is legal and should be used carefully but liberally for the same reason (confusion with positive discrimination), and definitely where there is blatant under-representation. Where virtually no diversity is in evidence it is especially difficult to achieve. Who wants to work somewhere with a reputation for discrimination? A reputation in a competitive climate for fairness, and proactive good practice is not easy to build and should be held onto by all means possible. Recruiters know very well that many firms recruit badly and have individuals, even within so called progressive firms, who knock back good candidates with “funny” names. It needs to be clear that positive action is about a range of actions – mentoring, targeted recruitment, educational and CSR work in specifc communities, monitoring to ensure a firm can evidence that it doesn’t only employ certain types of people, and a host of other actions that most good firms employ now as a matter of course. Inequity is largely the result of historical practice (prejudice, stereotyping and ignorance too of course), but if left untackled it impacts very negatively on everyone, not just minorities. It is also a terrible waste! Reply Link Eddy 16 June 2008 at 10:05 Risk management diversity After what had been said and done, diversity is the main topic for Eversheds. Its leaders must be relentless in its pursuit to achieve excellence in its diversity programme and initiatives. Diversity must be its prime mission and so it must put in place an effective risk management infrastructure to communicate to everyone and set up a small team to work on this diversity issue, to address the hard part which is the monitoring of race, gender or sexuality and even client entertainment. It is also important for it to infuse a risk management corporate culture and its precepts into its diversity mission. Reply Link Lesley Graham F.Inst.L.Ex., ILEX President 16 June 2008 at 10:22 Legal Executive lawyers – time to make room for talent We at Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) have read with interest the emerging debate on diversity in the Lawyer (Front Page, June 9 – Recruiters slam Eversheds’ demands for diversity). Of course it would be wrong for any candidate to be selected on diversity grounds alone or to be hired simply to fill a tick in a box. Individuals must always be selected on their own merits. But the argument that the lack of diversity lies squarely with the legal profession does not stand up to scrutiny. Since its creation, ILEX has always enjoyed a membership that comes from a widely diverse background; currently 75% of our members are female and more than 13% are from an ethnic minority background. Indeed, just last month the Attorney General complimented ILEX on this very fact at a speech she gave to an audience drawn from the legal profession. As an organisation we take diversity very seriously. We have always encouraged membership from a broad academic base, as well as from the widest possible range of backgrounds, and will continue to do so in the future. I notice that in the latest Lawyer article on this issue Nick Woolf states “The problem… was that firms needed to hire employees from a broader academic base, rather than focusing on those from traditional universities.” We couldn’t agree more. If legal firms and their recruitment agencies are truly looking to employ lawyers from diverse backgrounds, then why not look to Legal Executive lawyers to fill their jobs – we form a ready-made pool of qualified lawyers from diverse backgrounds from which to choose. Reply Link Anonymous 16 June 2008 at 11:15 Re, ‘Diversity’ post, 10.05 What is the point you are making, Eddy? It just sounds like a lot of cliches stitched together. Is this your own considered view, or are you just parroting lots of things that other people have told you? Reply Link Uri 16 June 2008 at 11:47 Representation of the People! Fairly representative of the People! What baffles me about these discussions is that the basic logic underpinning them is so flawed that it renders the whole analysis obtuse. If the so-called ethnic minorities (I grew up in Blackburn where this epithet appears frankly ridiculous) are minorities as alleged, is it not natural that there will be less of their minority number in the workplace? Being of immigrant parents myself I have absolutely no issue with any man or woman succeeding in any endeavour on merit. But were we to simply flood the profession with ethnic minority candidates to the deliberate exclusion of white candidates (which IS the real agenda no matter how it is dressed up – affirmative action in the US ring a bell?) then how could the profession be said to be truly representative of the society it serves? No one seriously believes that there is infrastructure racism anymore – and yet, the politically correct mob, not satisfied with this statistic has to go looking for racism under every bush “blackboards,” “Christmas,” “jar jar binks being a racist caricature of Jamaicans”. What of the plight of provincially trained lawyers who never get the opportunity to be considered for posts in the City or in international firms? Is that exclusion not having an adverse effect on diversity? Or are people from Bolton only fit for quiz shows and “garlic bread” gags? The level playing field exists in the form of the attainment of qualifications for the role – not in artificial Dulux colour coding. Reply Link Marianne 16 June 2008 at 14:18 What’s the fuss? I’m shocked at the lack of understanding shown by many lawyers about the fundamental nature of the diversity issue. It’s quite frightening to me that the suggestion by Caroline Wilson that recruiters need to monitor the diversity of the candidates they put forward has lead people to conclude, for example, that all white, middle class males should leave Eversheds because of fears of “positive discrimination” (just to confirm, having worked at Eversheds, I can assure readers that white men still constitute the vast majority of partners in all practice groups, so they really needn’t worry at this stage), and that the purpose of all diversity policies is to exclude white people. Uri, you are absolutely correct in your intimation that lawyers should be representative of the community. Ethnic minorities are severely underrepresented in the legal profession, particularly at top City firms (see Smulian, Mark “Representing Ethnic Minority Lawyers: A Boost for Diversity” (2003) Law Society Gazette, 11 September, 22). The Law Society does not even keep statistics relating to representation of disabled solicitors, but based on my own experience, having worked for four top firms (here and in Australia), and come across one disabled solicitor in all that time, it seems clear to me that disabled solicitors are not even close to being represented fairly in the legal profession. The legal profession needs to be pro-active in addressing diversity. As Nick Wolf suggests, recruiting from non traditional univerisity (thereby, I assume, placing greater emphasis on extra-curricular activities and candidates’ other attributes) is a good start to try to minimise the effect of historic discrimination against those from low socio-economic areas. Encouraging recruiters not to overlook people from ethnic minorities or religious groups is another positive measure. I completely fail to see how these two suggestions has caused such an incredible fuss. Reply Link Anonymous 16 June 2008 at 15:42 Marianne’s email Marianne – diversity is not just about ethnic minority lawyers. “Minority” and “ethnic minority” are not the same thing. By equating diversity with ethnic diversity, your email marginalises, amongst others, LGTB lawyers, who have extreme discrimination (even from BME lawyers) to overcome. By trying to make these lawyers invisible, you are committing a hate crime. Reply Link Eddy 16 June 2008 at 17:04 Re diversity risk management To the poster at 11.15, I just want to say that diversity is a challenge for Eversheds or any blue circle Law firm to undertake. They will need to put in place an effective risk management infrastructure to grasp or be involved in. They must also ensure the infusion of a risk management working culture and risk management awareness among all their firms employee(from board right down to the very bottom of the management or employee hierarchy). In reality this will involve their philosophy, policy and corporate culture. Their overall objectives/goals and purposes touches on the “soft” part of their organisation’s structure and the hard part, that is, the risk management framework or risk identification, risk assessment, risk measurement, risk treatment, and risk monitoring/follow up. Reply Link Katie 17 June 2008 at 11:13 Diversity is more than counting types of people OK so I’m not yet a lawyer, and I’m white, I’m straight and I’m not disabled, but I do feel a need to comment In my experience discrimination persists much more on the basis of physical/mental impairment (in the “community” where it is still more or less acceptable to stare, and make disabled people use different entrances to others etc as well as in recruitment. I’ve worked loads of different jobs with hundreds and hundreds of people but only worked with one person with an impairment – even then I was the one who hired them!), and class. Law firms are never totally going to reflect the communities in which they serve because lawyers, especially those in big firms, are going to have been well educated (I don’t mean just at private schools). I’d imagine it is extremely unusual to find anyone from a deprived background in the law and to me the main issue is, as has been said before, the total lack of social mobility in the UK. Firms should make sure they really are selecting on merit, and providing an open culture where eg: the whole building is accessible, provisions are made for people with impairments, allowances for people of different faiths to take different time off are made etc and I don’t have a problem with positive discrimination but I feel lack of diversity in the work place is much more than how many non-white people you have working for you, and much more difficult to solve. I have loads of friends from school and uni who aren’t white, straight men who have degrees and really good jobs that they love – but I come from a quite a priviledged background and went to a good school and uni. My friends from poorer backgrounds who went to bad comps (not all comps are bad at all), that tend to be found in more deprived areas, are pretty much all working rubbish jobs they hate for no money and dropped out of education between GCSEs and A-levels even if they ARE straight white men. And I went to a private secondary school but I am not interested in rugby/ horses. Stereotyping works both ways you know! Reply Link Anonymous 17 June 2008 at 13:06 Firms lack of diversity Law Firms have failed to recognise diversity per se. One only needs to look into the diversity of a law firm from its support staff through to lawyers to confirm this fact. I used to work at [national firm] and ignorance amongst the staff towards ethnic monirities is visible. Apart from myself there were no ethnic minorities within the department that I worked in whether in a support role or as lawyers. I solely place the blame upon law firms who are in most instances racist towards ethnic minorities and deliberately will not recruit or interview candidates from those backgrounds. As far as I am concerned [the firm’s] so called “diversity policy” was in name only. Reply Link Marianne 17 June 2008 at 15:00 Lack of diversity To the poster at 13:06 – I agree, many law firms have diversity policies (and other policies, some which impact on diversity – such as flexible working or work life balance policies) that they do not adhere to in practice. But you cannot place the whole blame for the appalling lack of diversity within the legal profession on law firms. Recruitment agencies are responsible for the vast majority of recruitment in law firms, and despite what Jonathan Glass says, they do not simply put forward every candidate that is qualified – they screen for a variety of reasons (one of the ambigous reasons I have been given is “fit” with the firm). If these reasons or practices have the effect of screening out certain classes of people who are suitably qualified (for example, ethnic minorities, disabled people or people over a particular age), they are discriminatory. I think the main gripe the agencies have had with Caroline Wilson’s comments is that Eversheds are “passing the buck” to agencies instead of dealing with their own, internal problems. This might have some merit, but it’s not helpful to say that agencies have no responsibility to undertake practices to monitor and ensure diversity. Reply Link Paul Cohen 3 July 2008 at 10:18 Re: ‘Jews in the legal profession’, 5-Jun-2008 @ 01:43AM Re Judaism being a religion and it thus being perfectly possible to be 100% White British yet Jewish in beliefs, this is clearly not the assumption that (most) Jewish operate under themselves. So, for instance, it is considered perfectly possible for people to be “non believers” without giving up their ethnic Jewishness. More fundamentally, it is also the basis on which Jews around the world believe that they have an automatic right to move to a crowded and highly disputed part of the middle east, despite their not necessarily being religious, and/or their families having been in Europe, Asia or North America for in some cases many hundreds of years. Reply Link Name Email Cancel reply Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.