Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Experiences of Discrimination in Recruitment


There has been a story in the Gazette recently about a barrister being turned down for a case because he was Afghan and not a while male barrister. Cue uproar in the legal profession and quite rightly too.
 My own experience of this dates back to practice over 20 years ago when a number of clients would reject the opportunity to be represented by colleagues who were Asian or female, and instead ask for a white male to represent them. It was not always clear whether this was because the white male in question was a well regarded 25 year qualified solicitor with a reputation for being able to get anybody off, but the way some of the clients asked was pretty indicative of someone with racist or sexist opinions, and impressively at the practice I worked at, the partners would have none of it. Similarly, I was aware of practices where they would bend over backwards to accommodate the wishes of such unpleasant clients simply to ensure they got the business.
 However, this type of behaviour doesn’t necessarily just follow in a client and lawyer relationship. We have worked with firms in the Middle East numerous times many years ago (we don’t anymore), who have specifically rejected any candidate who has not had a white male sounding name. Some of these firms went to extraordinary lengths to avoid having to consider a female or, even worse, an Asian female, for a role and some are pretty blunt about it.
Similarly, I’ve had conversations in the past with old white male senior partners who have asked about the intentions of young female solicitors; as to whether we thought they were planning to have children in the forthcoming years and therefore whether they would be better investing in another member of staff. We have also noticed occasionally we send out five or six CVs for a vacancy to a law firm and the law firm get back to request details of those they think have “white” sounding names and not Asian or black sounding names, if there is such a thing.
Bias appears in every walk of life, and the legal profession in very small minority of firms can be pretty bad at times with recruitment on a completely impartial basis.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

December 2018 Legal Recruitment News