Nine top City firms to launch joint initiative on diversity

Nine top City firms are among a group of organisations launching a ‘common diversity in law’ policy tomorrow (30 November). It comes a week after David Lammy, the Minister for Constitutional Affairs, called on firms and chambers to look outside Oxbridge for recruits.

Allen & Overy (A&O), Ashurst, Baker & McKenzie, Clifford Chance, DLA, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters, Slaughter and May and Weil Gotshal & Manges are signing a statement of intent – underlining the seriousness with which diversity is now taken.

The scheme is the brainchild of Global Graduates, which mentors students from disadvantaged and state school backgrounds through their university years.

While the scheme does not support quotas, many of the firms involved are understood to be focusing on practical issues, such as making sure students from non-traditional backgrounds have a chance of vacation placements.

However, The Lawyer can reveal that the City’s top law firms are still Oxbridge-dominated at partnership level, with Slaughter and May and Freshfields having the largest percentage of Oxbridge-educated partners.

City sources argue that partnership diversity inevit-ably lags behind trainee in-take. Freshfields now recruits from 50 universities and Linklaters from 35 institutions.

Of all the City firms surveyed, only A&O declined to give information on partners’ educational background, claiming that such statistics were unavailable.

UK firms’ Oxbridge partners
Firm % of UK-qualified Oxbridge-educated partners
Slaughter and May 58
Freshfields 51
Herbert Smith 46
Linklaters 44
Lovells 40.5
Ashurst 35
Clifford Chance* 33
Simmons & Simmons 22
Norton Rose* 20
Allen & Overy n/a
*Figures for London
Source: The Lawyer