"I did not study at Oxford and the LSE to end up working with people who graduated from Leicester or Queen Mary," wrote one person on legalweek.com in response to the news last week that magic circle outfit Freshfields is extending the number of universities from which it recruits.This is one of the comments that attached itself to the Legal Week story on how law firms are increasing their diversity by recruiting from some extra universities. I wrote about this last week.
Alex Aldridge in the Guardian takes it a bit further:
But there's a growing sense that the legal profession – which is notorious for lagging behind other walks of life in reflecting the public mood – is casting aside some of these prejudices.But as I said before "casting aside" isn't really about increasing diversity in the talent pool, it's about trying to find a few more recruits who are nearly like us from universities that are like Oxbridge. Perhaps Alex's closing statement says it all, and it's a depressing all.
A senior partner at a large law firm told me recently that he thought recruitment based purely on academic merit had gone too far, advocating instead a return to the old system of hiring "five brainboxes, five wild cards, five solid all-rounders who were good at sport (for the firm's cricket and rugby teams) and five stunningly beautiful women".
He added that one of the main reasons his firm stuck to the top universities was the students themselves: "They're the biggest snobs of all. If we recruit too widely, they won't come to us."Screaming and kicking into the 21st century might be the norm here.
And let's add in an arrival from the Lawyer that Slaughter and May managed to promote 5 associates without a woman among them. Marjorie in the comments says it all:
So, not a single woman gets promoted. And not a single woman was promoted last year. And two female partners have just left. What does this do to their diversity stats??