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City law firms sign up to BAME recruitment initiative

Seventeen of London’s leading law firms, including seven of the top ten by revenue, have signed up to the Race Fairness Commitment (RFC) to recruit, retain and develop BAME talent.



Pathfinding measures included in the RFC include close analysis of quantitative data and monitoring throughout careers, from recruitment to senior promotion, to identify and attack the points at which BAME lawyers are unfairly falling behind their peers. Firms have also committed to decisive steps to ensure that race and racism are better recognised and talked about internally.



The RFC has been signed by Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Clifford Chance, DWF, Dentons, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright, Pinsent Masons, RPC, Slaughter and May, Travers Smith and White & Case.



These firms are taking this initiative in partnership with Rare, the diversity recruitment specialist that has been helping law firms and others recruit talented BAME candidates into tier-one graduate jobs for 15 years. While most leading City law firms now recruit cohorts of graduate trainees that are as ethnically diverse as the population, ethnic diversity at entry level has not led to sufficient ethnic diversity at management level.



Research conducted by Rare earlier this year revealed that many BAME lawyers have not found their firms’ cultures inclusive. That research showed that BAME lawyers spend on average 20% less time at firms than their White colleagues before leaving. Rare’s research echoed a recent YouGov poll, which found that half of Black Britons had experienced racism at work.



“What seems possible in terms of racial justice has shifted this year, and the Race Fairness Commitment is about real change,” said Raph Mokades, Founder and Managing Director of Rare. “It’s a brave step for the law firms to take, as well as a necessary one. It goes beyond merely not discriminating, and it goes beyond the usual diversity and inclusion activities you see at many organisations. For law firms, it’s about recognising a problem and hunting it down, and I’m delighted that so many have taken this major step.”



Rare is making the RFC’s methodology available on a free, open-access basis to any employers who want to identify and tackle their organisations’ points of adverse impact on race. Detailed guidance and modelling are available at


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