Law firms make up over half of employers on 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index

updated on 31 October 2023

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Browne Jacobson LLP, Linklaters LLP and Allen & Overy LLP are among 41 law firms on the 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index, with the legal profession retaining its place as the best-represented sector in the index this year.

The Social Mobility Employer Index, which is now in its seventh year, analysed the actions employers are taking to improve social mobility across the following seven “critical employee milestones”:

  • work with young people;
  • routes into the employer;
  • attraction;
  • recruitment and selection;
  • data collection;
  • progression, culture and experienced hires; and
  • advocacy.

There’s also an optional employee survey.

According to the latest report, 143 organisations entered this year from the private, public and voluntary sectors. More than 75% of these organisations were returning entrants – of which, 93.8% said they enter the index because they value the feedback which helps them to improve. Law made up the biggest proportion of entrants (36%), followed by banking, financial services and insurance (15%).

The report found that 46 organisations don’t look at grades during the recruitment process anymore, 102 collect three or four socioeconomic data points on current employees, 37 publish socioeconomic data and 18 are measuring their class pay gap. Meanwhile, three organisations are still offering unpaid internships.

The report also highlighted some of the work undertaken across the 75 employers. Freshfield Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s three-year Aspiring Professionals Programme was outlined as an example of “effective targeting in areas where opportunities for work are limited”. The programme, delivered by the Social Mobility Foundation, supports high-achieving young people from social mobility cold spots and a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds.

A student on the programme said: “Without this internship I would have never met anyone practising law in London or from such a prestigious firm – it just doesn’t happen where I’m from. The fact this placement had loads of information alongside tasks to build and practice your skills was incredible.”

On top of this, under each critical employee milestone the Social Mobility Index has put forward recommendations for employers and policymakers. Among other suggestions, it recommends that employers:

  • review the socioeconomic background of each apprenticeship intake;
  • invest in a well-structured school leaver programme;
  • consider the use of contextual recruitment tools such as upReach’s REALrating to help contextualise applicants’ academic grades;
  • cover the costs of travel and accommodation for interviews; and
  • analyse pay data to identify whether the organisation has a class pay gap.

Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation, commends the work undertaken and commitments made by employers that enter the index but urges the government to take action to bring these “efforts to scale”.

Meanwhile, Caroline Green, a senior partner at Browne Jacobson, expressed pride as the firm retained its position as the highest ranked law firm in the index and DWF Group Plc recently announced the launch of its Social Mobility Programme following the success of its Ethnic Minority Programme this year.

The following law firms are included in this year’s index:

  1. Browne Jacobson
  2. Linklaters
  3. Allen & Overy
  4. Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner
  5. Womble Bond Dickinson
  6. DLA Piper UK LLP
  7. Baker McKenzie
  8. Lewis Silkin
  9. Squire Patton Boggs (UK) LLP
  10. CMS
  11. Osborne Clarke LLP
  12. Slaughter and May
  13. Weightmans LLP
  14. DWF
  15. Ashurst LLP
  16. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
  17. Macfarlanes LLP
  18. Hogan Lovells
  19. Brodies LLP
  20. Shepherd and Wedderburn
  21. Mayer Brown International LLP
  22. Clifford Chance
  23. Addleshaw Goddard
  24. Charles Russell Speechlys LLP
  25. Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP
  26. Clyde & Co LLP
  27. Norton Rose Fulbright
  28. Simmons & Simmons LLP
  29. TLT LLP
  30. Burges Salmon LLP
  31. Pinson Masons LLP
  32. Sharpe Pritchard
  33. Mishcon de Reya LLP
  34. Burness Paul LLP
  35. Stephenson Harwood LLP
  36. RPC
  37. Farrer & Co LLP
  38. Stewarts Law LLP
  39. White & Case LLP
  40. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher UK LP
  41. Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP

To see the complete list of 75 employees, head to the Social Mobility Foundation website.