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Recruiters slam Eversheds' demands for diversity

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  • 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.

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  • 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!!).

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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