Law firms dominate social mobility ranking, but lose out on the top spot

Law firms make up a third of UK social mobility employer index, but MoJ tops legal list and KPMG gets the top spot.


The legal profession dominates the United Kingdom’s social mobility employer index, believed to be the only index globally.  The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) tops the legal sector, ranking third in the overall Top 50 Social Mobility Employer Index. However, the legal profession did not manage to take the overall top spot on the list, with Big Four accountancy firm KPMG the winner,  adding a little bite to the growing competition between accountancy and law firms.

Law firms dominate

A total of 14 law firms feature in the top 50 employers taking the most action to progress talent from all backgrounds. The top ranking law firm featuring on the list is the London office of the US firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, in fourth place. Linklaters was the highest placed ‘magic circle’ London law firm, coming 11th. Two other ‘magic circle’ firms featuring are Clifford Chance (22nd) and Slaughter and May (45th). The remaining law firms making the cut were Herbert Smith Freehills, which was placed 15th, the law firm Freeths (19th), Eversheds Sutherland (23rd), Hogan Lovells (36th), DLA Piper (38th), Pinsent Masons (41st), Holman Fenwick Willan (44th), Mayer Brown (47th) and Dentons (48th). The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple took up the middle ground, taking 24th place. Jeremy Cohen, CEO for Dentons in the UK and Middle East, said "creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is a priority for us at Dentons. Over the last year we have undertaken a number of initiatives to support this, including welcoming our first cohort of solicitor apprentices through our solicitor apprenticeship programme, which offers school leavers an alternative route to becoming qualified solicitors. We have also continued our relationship with the Social Mobility Business Partnership to provide work experience and skills sessions that support students from low-income backgrounds in their pursuit of a career."

Changing mood

The ranking is its second year and is jointly run by the Social Mobility Foundation, a charity founded in 2005, the government-sponsored Social Mobility Commission, and the City of London Corporation. The index is a free, voluntary survey that assesses employers on their work with young people, recruitment and selection processes, progress of employees from lower-income background within the organisation. Over 100 employers from 18 sectors including banking, engineering, retail and technology entered this year. Alan Milburn, former chair of the commission, said: 'There is a mood for change in the nation. As the index shows, social mobility is becoming a cause for more and more of our country's top employers. It is welcome that they are stepping up to the plate. They are making these changes both because they see the social need to do so and because they recognise the business benefit that greater diversity can bring.'

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