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Recruiters slam Eversheds' demands for diversity

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  • ...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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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!

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  • 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.

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