Graduate recruitment gets a diversity message and goes undercover

Graduate recruitment strategies and career development programmes need to change. The change is driven by the SRA’s SQE reforms, by technology and by the need for diversity and social mobility.

by Nick Stone, ARK Group Conference Producer 

Back in February 2018, the SRA published its paper on the business case for delivery. SRA explores the business benefits of a diverse and inclusive legal profession. Increasing evidence suggests that a more diverse business is a more successful business. Diversity can widen and deepen the client base, support innovation and improve profitability. The paper then goes to point out that diversity can lead to higher productivity, a better understanding of the recruitment market, stakeholders and the wider business.

On gender, the SRA reports that 48% of all lawyers in 17 law firms are women. While 58% of in-house solicitors are women. But, only 29% of partners in very large firms (with 50 or more partners) are women.

On ethnicity, the proportion of all BAME lawyers has increased to 21% from around 15% in 2014. By contrast, 11% of people in employment across Great Britain are BAME. In very large firms (50 or more partners), 9% of partners are BAME. In one-partner firms, 34% of partners are BAME.

But graduate recruitment has taken on a twist with some undercover reporting. Last year, The Secret Trainee blog was started by three City trainees. These three are bravely delving beyond appealing graduate recruitment brochures and providing aspiring lawyers of tomorrow with an uncompromising glimpse of life within corporate law. Their objectives are to “shine a light” on some of the commercial law firm practises; provide “everyday, unvarnished stories” for peers and colleagues and provide some entertainment for prospective lawyers.

Whether you’re hiring, reviewing your recruitment strategy, or keen to hear from others in the industry, the ARK Group is running the Graduate Recruitment for Law Firms on 5 June 2018. Among the speakers are Julie Brannan, Director of Education and Training at the SRA, who’ll be talking about the SQE reforms. There’s also Sophie Khan who’s on the Law Society's Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division and Partner at Sophie Khan & Co.