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The Oracle

How do I figure out which law firms value diversity and inclusion?

updated on 19 October 2021

Dear Oracle

Reading time: two minutes.

Law firms are always saying they're diverse but how do I decide which firm is the right fit for me?

The Oracle replies

Diversity. Diversity. Diversity.

It is true that diversity and inclusion is the talk of the legal town and is often highlighted in bold on law firm’s sleek websites and brochures. Due to the intense way this word is pushed and emphasised by numerous firms, it is hard for aspiring lawyers to distinguish between the firms and chambers that truly embody diversity and the ones that are merely using diversity as a buzzword for marketing purposes.

Ever heard the expression ‘actions speak louder than words’? This is the concept you should apply when deciding which firm is the right fit for you. An aspiring lawyer must wear many hats and one of these hats is that of a meticulous detective; it’s important to pay attention to what a firm is doing, rather than what it’s saying.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • which firms are introducing long-term diversity initiatives and sticking by them;
  • are there graduate programmes to cater specifically for underrepresented groups;
  • what are the retention rates of Black candidates; and
  • what’s the demographic of lawyers at senior levels?

If you can’t answer these questions about your dream firm, then you must dig for this information. If you still can’t find anything, then you have your answer. Try to avoid just looking at the recent actions of law firms, you need to search for a pattern of behaviour (eg, has the firm only just started introducing diversity and inclusion initiatives or is this something they have always done?). However, if a firm is working to become more diverse, it has potential of being a good fit for you and this is a good sign it is forward-thinking.

Here are two main factors to consider when handpicking which firms to apply to:

  • Talent pool – it’s important for a law firm’s talent pool to include a range of candidates including those from underrepresented backgrounds. By fostering an inclusive workplace that attracts Black candidates, people with disabilities and individuals from the LGBTQ+ community, the firm will attract and cultivate a diverse atmosphere.

Read this Feature for more on diversity and inclusion.

  • Recruitment tools – the second important step is how the individuals in the talent pool are recruited. Many firms use the Rare Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) which enables them to identify high potential candidates by assessing their achievements in context. Firms also run CV blind assessment days and 46 law firms have signed the Rare Race Fairness Commitment (launched in 2020) which commits to measuring ‘application to interview’ and ‘interview to offer’ rates for different ethnic groups, as well as monitoring their progress.

Read this Feature: ‘Black candidates share legal recruitment process.

There are inclusive firms out there that will be the right fit for you, you just have to find them.

For more on what solicitors’ firms, chambers and legal education providers are doing to improve diversity and inclusion within the legal profession, head to LawCareers.Net’s Diversity Hub, sponsored by Gowling WLG.