Half of law firms missing out on talent by not considering all university backgrounds, study finds

New research has found that more than half of law firms could miss out on 96% of talent entering the legal sector – if they don’t consider all university backgrounds.

A study in April revealed that just over half of hiring managers within law firms would only consider graduates from the “top eight” universities – cited as Oxford, St Andrew’s, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial College London, Durham University, UCL and the University of Bath.

Yet further analysis from Access Legal,  has found that only 4% of students studying law degrees in 2022 studied at the top eight universities. More than 140 thousand students studied law in 2022, with just 5,975 studying at the top 8 unis.

This comes at a time when legal firms face challenges in securing quality talent. Emma de Sousa, managing director at Access Legal said:

“Diversity and inclusion has become an increasing priority for the legal sector and firms have made great strides to ensure opportunities are offered widely – regardless of people’s backgrounds. While law degrees are available across a range of universities across the country with varying levels of entry requirements, it is crucial these talented people with a passion for law and a career in the sector, do not get overlooked simply because of where they study. The benefits of a diverse workforce are well documented, and many firms will be keen to encourage applicants from all backgrounds to ensure they’re attracting the best talent.”

With less than one month before the SRA’s deadline for all regulated firms to submit their diversity data, firms will no doubt be evaluating practices to ensure they are providing opportunities for people from all backgrounds.

The diversity survey is part of the SRA’s approach to equality, diversity and inclusion. All regulated firms are required to report and publish diversity data regarding the make-up of their workforce every two years, which includes background on education, gender, race and family occupation. The SRA provides a template question set that regulated firms need to provide all employees with the opportunity to answer.

Firms can collect employee data through Access Legal’s Diversity Data collection survey, which allows firms to protect their employees anonymity and complies with all data protection legislation.

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