Clifford Chance (one of the big five ‘magic circle’ law firms) has, on the quiet, released a new recruiting policy that could just about level the playing field for applicants wanting to enter the legal profession. For the last year, it has been operating under a blind CV system during the final interviews. Interviewers will not be told anything other than the candidate’s name. This is a unique system in the UK. University lecturers have been urging other law firms to follow suit (chuckle).
The first year of the scheme has accepted 100 graduate trainees from 41 different educational institutions. Universities included Cardiff, Essex, Lancaster, Liverpool, and Ulster.
Why Is There Such a Huge Bias Towards Oxbridge?
Some people say it’s the interviewing panels, while others name universities as more hesitant to submit applications because they aren’t Oxbridge. Through Clifford Chance’s scheme, candidates will be scored on their work experience and job-related work placements before they’re moved into the final category.
When it comes to Clifford Chance’s vacation programmes (spring and summer placements for existing students), half of the available posts are already on hold through an ‘Intelligent Aid’ scheme. With Intelligent Aid, candidates write a 250-500 word essay on a topic important to the law firm; they then present their point to an audience – the best win a place!
As a result of Clifford Chance’s new approach to recruiting, 1/3 more first generation university students have been accepted than through the traditional route, plus three times as more students from universities that they don’t have a traditional tie to. They’ve also attracted a lot of hopefuls through their Facebook Q&A scheme.
The Brightside Trust helps young people access the education that they might not have been able to otherwise. They really support Clifford Chance’s approach to recruiting and think that it’s the best way to get talented individuals into the firm. The Brightside Trust believes that, given the chance, state school candidates tend to outperform their privately educated peers.
Many careers still hang out of reach for non-Oxbridge students; you just need to look at the Cabinet to have this confirmed.
Parliament: one-third of MPs went to Oxford or Cambridge (figures from 2010). Unsurprisingly, this includes 38% of Conservative MPs. Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Tony Blair, and Edward Heath all went to Oxford University, which seems to breed prime ministers. Gordon Brown was the first ever British prime minister to have been university-educated in an institution other than Oxford or Cambridge.
Media: more than half of university-educated top journalists came from Oxbridge. 54% of leading journalists were educated in private schools. Some ex-Oxford journalists include David Dimbleby, Nick Robinson, and Fiona Bruce.
Law: 38% of trainees in magic circle law firms went to Oxbridge. If you look at Slaughter and May, this figure goes up to 48% between 2008 and 2010.