Categories:Europe

Top UK law firms unite to launch social mobility scheme

  • Print
  • Comments (28)

Readers' comments (28)

  • Sounds to me like Mr Morley is after a gong from the Queen.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Comments like Graham's are only to be expected, but this seems like a good and practical project. I hope David Morely disregards the cynicism that will inevitably be directed towards him.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Do they still wish to provide a 'work experience scheme aimed at A-level students and ways to encourage young people from non-traditional backgrounds to consider support roles ­within law firms.' as reported in

    http://www.thelawyer.com/magic-circle-moots-joint-social-mobility-strategy/1007521.article ?

    If so, have they in the meantime defined what 'non-traditional is?

    Do you have to be poor or non-British?
    Or do you have to be poor *and* non-British?

    Why are they only allowed to consider support roles?
    Does non-traditional mean 'cannot become a lawyer'?

    And, by the way, what is considered to be a 'traditional' background? Are they expected to consider support roles too?

    Who came up with this wannabe PC 'non-traditional' hogwash in the first place?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Note to file ... time to become unemployed so Jonny can get a free school meal and qualify for this scheme - will help Jonny go to Oxbridge and become a QC in due course. - actually, better make sure Jonny goes to a second class institution to increase his chances.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Let's hope they enjoy photocopying, or decide to do something worthwhile instead.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @ anonymous 11.38am always love the squeals from the privileged when someone tries to dismantle the barriers to entry to the posh professions. Mate, we're coming after you

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I echo comments made by Anonymous | 12-Sep-2011 11:38 am. I come from a relatively modest background, growing up in South Wales. A friend grew up on a council estate in Southend. We both went to Cambridge and qualified into Magic Circle firms. Although I don't remember anyone making special allowances for me in view of my background - there didn't seem to be too many barriers circa 1995 and I'm sure my friend would say the same - I would hope that this social mobility scheme will extend to the type of area where we grew up. Hopefully, it won't just be an opportunity for law firms to burnish their PC credentials in inner-city London.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • All credit to anyone who will provide any decent work experience, but what is the point of this? If the youngsters just want to end up as paralegals they will find the field crowded with thousands [yes, thousands] of graduates who are forced to do paralegal work because they can't get training contracts.
    If they aspire to become solicitors, after their taster of work experience in such good firms, they will find that after accumulating vast student debt at university and law school they won't be able to get training contracts and will hit a dead end.
    Really this is all a cosmetic exercise by the legal profession to make it appear that something is being done when in fact the training contract system presents an insuperable obstacle to the majority of would-be entrants.
    The reason would-be lawyers are more likely to come from well-off backgrounds is that you need to be well-heeled to take the risk of going through the mill and yet not getting a training contract
    The accountancy profession organises this much better [1] You do your training in the job. [2] You don't have to finance your way through accountancy school, [3] You don't have to pick up a precious training contract two or three years before you start.
    Time to pull down our archaic remnant of medieval apprenticeship!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Bobby,

    Did you even bother to read my post properly?

    FFS.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @ anonymous 11.38
    All the cool kids are using something called Google these days. You should Goo... ask your butler about it.
    Then next time you might be able to find the answer to your question: http://www.primecommitment.org/definitions?iframe=true&width=600&height=70%

    @ Waynella
    Thanks for your thorough and insightful analysis. If you're not a partner already, you'll soon be there!
    Lesser mortals might have pondered the correlation between income distribution when someone enters the workforce and intergenerational mobility in terms of income or occupation class (greater inequality means it's harder to move up or down). They might also have pondered that the income inequality in the UK has got a lot worse since the period looked at by the Milburn report, suggesting that kids from a poorer background born in the last ten years and the future are in for a much tougher time making a career for themselves.
    But what would they know.
    Anyone genuinely interested in the issues could do worse than read the report of the National Inequality Panel: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/28344/1/CASEreport60.pdf

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I find it very interesting that a large number of the firms listed represent nowhere near a 'diverse' workforce. Most seemingly circumvent the ‘B’ in BME and focus mainly on the ‘ME’ to pass themselves off as ‘Diverse’.

    It is all well and good having these ‘schemes’ but what happens when these students get to the Trainee level they will have very few if not no one from their backgrounds to look up to as mentor as partners in particular if they are black …WHY? Where are the Black trainees and junior lawyers they are scarcer now that before and that is not because of a lack of qualifications, excellent a’levels, work experience and attendance at top Universities. As soon as the recession kicked in firms tightened their belts in terms of numbers and have seemingly completely thrown diversity initiatives in terms of the black population and future trainees – partners out of the window. Again I ask who will these students have to look up to? Firms are focusing now on the youth not realising that there will be a huge generational gap when it is time for them to qualify and progress their legal careers as well as a void in terms of partners, associates and in most cases similar trainees to themselves.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @Cityboy - read my post before you reply / post links to pages that have nothing to do with what I wrote.

    @Matthew - I agree, there should be more people from different backgrounds in the UK legal profession but IMHO it will take a long time to get there. The quote in my original post says it all. In the UK being very smart is not enough, there is too much class angst going on. Good on you for succeeding against the odds, bright students from less privileged backgrounds would probably find a great mentor in you.

    In the meantime it would be nice to see the people leading social mobility programmes saying it like it is, i.e. using terms such as 'poor' or 'underprivileged' instead of 'non-traditional', whatever the latter is supposed to mean.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • These initiatives wind me up. They’re dreamt up by upper middle class women in law firm HR departments, who have little to no understanding of life outside a southern, private school, home counties bubble.

    To qualify for one of these schemes, you have to attend state school. Fine – that’s 93% of the population. Then, you have to be on free school meals, so that eliminates large swathes of both working and middle class children who are poor, but not that poor; not privileged, but not disadvantaged either.

    The poor get tax credits, housing benefit, free school meals, and a raft of other income support benefits. You don’t have to have much to fall just outside the scope of the welfare net, and yet, by the definition of this ludicrous scheme, you would be considered privileged.

    Bright working and middle class kids without much money used to go to grammar schools. Now they are shafted. The point is that they are the ones that could actually make it as a lawyer, with a bit of a push and guidance that these schemes can provide.

    Instead, we all know that these placements will be packed full of black kids from the worst schools in Peckham and Edmonton, while John from Walsall and Lisa from Swindon are not given a second thought. Jemima and Harriet from the diversity team will be delighted, of course.

    You click on the PRIME website. And then you see a video from Mishal Hussain. She’s as posh as anything – father is a doctor, independent school, Cambridge University.

    “But she’s Asian – wonderful – tick that box, Charlotte!”

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This is a positive step in the right direction, but as Robert Craig points out, it doesn't really address the bigger issue here.

    In short, many kids from lower and even middle income families are being priced out of a University education. Many will look at the sums involved and simply decide that they cannot afford to either have that luxury or take that risk.

    As Robert also points out, the big accountancy firms are again leading the way ahead of law firms. Until the large law firms undertake take schemes such as KPMG's (see link), then initiatives such as PRIME - however laudable - can only skirt the surface of the issue.

    http://www.dur.ac.uk/news/newsitem/?itemno=11361

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • @Anonymous 11.38
    I'm interested in how *you* define 'non-British' - let's assume that the majority of the participants will be UK citizens (although if they and their parents have indefinite leave to remain, why should they not also take part)?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Tim, where in my post did I say that non-British individuals should not take part?

    You could at least bother to read what i wrote before you reply.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I have to say that the only social mobility I’ve seen in law firms over the last couple of years are low paid administrative staff being forced down the social mobility ladder into poverty and unemployment generally through no fault of their own. As usual, management preserve their own lifestyle and excesses at the expense of those lower in the hierarchy.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • These are (some) of the same firms that have outsourced back office functions - really, perhaps they should treat exisitng staff with even a modicum of respect before extolling their virtues - rest assured these support staff will to a large degree have come from a very similar background.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Sad to see so much cynicism. I'm close enough to this scheme to know that it is entirely well-intended and comfortably the most comprehensive response to a legitimate problem we've seen yet.

    Along with the attrition rates for women, the legal profession is fully aware of the huge pool of talent either remaining untapped or being lost. One cause is a lack of ways to identify talent, particularly given how early firms are recruiting for training contracts - i.e. before students have anything more than early academics as a guide. You can understand why a risk averse profession might take safe options in their selection.

    Brian Clough makes a good point. Grammar schools were probably the greatest aid to social mobility that this country has ever had.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I thought A&O defined social mobility as moving their London support staff jobs to Belfast for knock down wages. This is really all to do with A&O trying to repair its image after a series of PR blunders that squandered their reputation as the 'nice' magic circle firm. The Belfast move and other measures show that neither David Morley nor A&O are really very nice at all. Bring back Guy Beringer!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 per page | 20 per page | 50 per page

Have your say

Mandatory Required Fields

Mandatory

Comments that are in breach or potential breach of our terms and conditions in particular clause 8, may not be published or, if published, may subsequently be taken down. In addition we may remove any comment where a complaint is made in respect of it. These actions are at our sole discretion.

  • Print
  • Comments (28)