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Working-class applicants passed over for law graduate schemes

Published: Tuesday, 21 December 2010   Category: Law

Applicants with a working-class accent or appearance may have a reduced chance of securing a graduate placement at some of London's law firms, new research in the journal Work, Employment and Society suggests.

Experts at City University London's Cass Business School surveyed 130 staff at five prominent law firms in the capital.

They found that the firms were doing well with respect to recruiting a fair proportion of graduates from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

However, an applicant's accent appears to have a noticeable effect on their chances of success.

Recruiters who encountered an applicant with a working-class accent or appearance tended to be much less likely to offer them a place.

Dr Louise Ashley, who conducted the study, observed: "Focusing on ethnicity enables law firms to boast excellent or at the very least improved diversity outcomes, despite the fact that they have continued to recruit using precisely the same types of class privilege that have always been in operation."

The report follows research from the Black Solicitors Network, which ranked Linklaters, Baker & McKenzie, Norton Rose, Trowers & Hamlins, and Irwin Mitchell as the UK's most diverse law firms.

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