Law firms should remove grades and universities on application forms, says social mobility expert

updated on 14 February 2020

Candidates from working class backgrounds are being locked out of the legal profession, says Alan Milburn, chair of the Social Mobility Foundation and a former cabinet minister.

To tackle the problem, Milburn has suggested that law firms should remove the names, grades and universities of candidates from application forms.

As reported by The Law Gazette, Milburn describes social mobility in the UK as “stagnant” as he urges graduate recruiters to revamp their recruitment processes in order to allow working class candidates more chance of success.

Research from the Social Mobility Foundation shows that eight in 10 people hired by law firms attended Russell Group universities. Milburn’s new campaign called ‘CVs Aren’t Working’ aims to get employers to remove names, universities and grades from application forms, to ensure diversity in terms of socioeconomic background on interview panels and to encourage employers to create inclusive cultures within their businesses.

Milburn said: “How employers recruit is exacerbating the UK’s social mobility problem. By overly focusing on a small number of selective universities and fee-paying schools they are locking out talent. CVs are a big part of the problem.

“By taking practical steps to revise how they recruit, employers can open their doors to a far wider pool of potential. They should trial removing names, universities, schools and grades to ensure they’re judging potential rather than simply past academic performance and social polish. That way employers can help themselves and help address the UK’s stagnant social mobility.”

Many law firms are already working on improving social mobility, with firms such as Baker McKenzie, Linklaters LLP and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner within the top ten of the Social Mobility Employer Index 2019.