Wed, 22 May 2013
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Recruiters slam Eversheds' demands for diversity
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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