Law firms join #10000blackinterns initiative and partner with Social Mobility Pledge

updated on 19 February 2021

More than 20 law firms and five barristers’ chambers have signed up to the #10000blackinterns initiative, alongside the Law Society and Bar Council, with the Law Society urging other firms to get involved.

The scheme, which is due to kickstart next summer, has been designed to improve the opportunities available to young Black people in the UK: “The 10,000 Black Interns programme will offer paid work experience across a wide range of sectors, providing training and development opportunities and creating a sustainable cycle of mentorship and sponsorship for the Black community.”

Among the 20 law firms already involved are Burges Salmon, Gowling WLG, Osborne Clarke, Shoosmiths and Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Law Society President David Greene said: “We hope interning at the Law Society – or law firms signed up to the initiative – will open doors for aspiring young Black talent and inspire participants to pursue a legal career.”

He added: “The Law Society is committed to building a more diverse and inclusive profession,' Greene said. 'We are proud to participate in the #10000BlackInterns initiative and encourage law firms and legal businesses to take part and invest in the next generation of young Black talent.”

The group, which also founded #100blackinterns in August 2020, intends for this new initiative to be repeated for the next five years.

The initiative was co-founded by Dawid Konotey-Ahulu (a co-founder of Redington Limited and Mallowstreet), Jonathan Sorrell (president of Capstone Investment Advisors), Michael Barrington-Hibbert (founder of Barrington-Hibbert Associates) and Wol Kolade (managing partner of Livingbridge), and now has leading representatives from 10 different sectors, including law.

Meanwhile, 15 City of London Law Society (CLLS) member firms, including Ashurst, DLA Piper and Kingsley Napley, have joined forces with Justine Greening’s Social Mobility Pledge to create an Opportunity Action Plan to improve access and equal opportunities into the legal profession.

As part of the Social Mobility Pledge, law firms will work closely with several universities, including Bradford, Staffordshire, Lincoln, York St John and Liverpool John Moores to develop new and wider pathways from higher education into the legal sector.

The partnership between CLLS member firms and the Social Mobility Pledge is its first sector-wide initiative designed to facilitate leading law firms working together to develop solutions that will address the lack of social mobility in the profession.

The pledge was co-founded in 2018 by Greening, the first Secretary of State for Education to have attended a comprehensive school and local further education college, and entrepreneur and philanthropist David Harrison.

Greening said: “Many young people are seeing their life prospects drastically downgraded, with jobs and job offers disappearing. Meanwhile, massive demand for reskilling and career shifting support is building up.

“Well defined purpose together with a strong culture and leadership have marked out those organisations which have taken the right decisions in response to the crisis, from those which have not. The challenge now, and one that CLLS member firms have stepped up to, is for Britain’s businesses and universities to play their role in boosting opportunity and social mobility as part of our national recovery.

“I’m looking forward to working with CLLS members on their Opportunity Action Plan. They are committed to making a difference and levelling up Britain. I hope many others will follow their example."  

The CLLS member firms already committed to the project are: