Equitable employment opportunities for all

At Moore Barlow we are working hard to put socio-economic diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of our business and ensuring that there are equitable employment opportunities for all. Removing obstacles for young people is critical, so that where they grew up, what schools they went to or what their parents or guardians did; does not restrict their life chances.

Unfortunately, education inequality in England is entrenched. By the time children start school, a child born into a socio-economically disadvantaged family is already less likely to meet expected levels of language, communication, and physical development. 

These gaps only widen throughout primary and secondary school. By the age of 16, socio-economically disadvantaged young people are significantly more likely to leave formal education without good grades in English and maths. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has further significantly contributed to widening societal inequalities. Children from more disadvantaged backgrounds may have fallen twice as far behind as the average child, in part due to worse experiences with home learning. Government statistics also show that in 2022, 47% of pupils eligible for free school meals achieved a standard pass in both English and Maths GCSE compared to 75% of pupils not eligible ( Source – Food poverty: Households, food banks and free school meals.)

Further compounding inequity, law firms can still prefer applicants with Russell Group university degrees. Applicants from lower economic backgrounds and particularly those whose parents may not have gone to university, are much less likely to have gone to university themselves, let alone a Russell Group one. Whilst this is a problem that extends beyond the legal profession, it is still very relevant. as to how, even now, the legal profession has a tendency to default to looking at academics as a key indicator on who would make a good lawyer.

How Moore Barlow are addressing social mobility

Our senior partner is Trevor Sterling, who has his own incredible story and has dedicated years to philanthropic work, delivering hundreds of diversity and motivational key note speeches and workshops across the country. Trevor is the first black Senior Partner to be elected in a top 100 UK law firm, the Chair of the Mary Seacole Trust, a charity which promotes social equality, partner sponsor for MB’s ED&I Committee and the founder of U-triumph platform and podcast host promoting social mobility and sharing stories of those who have broken through.

The aim is to inspire people to press the button of self-belief and to ensure that should they do so , they will be met with a society which gives them an equal and fair opportunity regardless of social circumstances, and recognises that it is not just be about qualification but application.

Trevor Sterling – Senior partner

We also have Debbie Moors who looks after our early careers offer. Debbie is passionate about improving access to law for everyone regardless of background. Debbie is supported by Susie Marsh, MB’s Training Principal and lead partner in FSL, who is dedicated to improving equality and inclusivity across the firm; both for early careers and in leadership.

Key initiatives undertaken by the firm, in our efforts to reduce inequity

What we are ultimately trying to do is be human first, committed and caring members of society and ensure that people in our communities are supported and represented by lawyers who reflect the breadth and uniqueness of society as a whole.

Below are some of the initiatives that we have undertaken:

  • Improving our Study Sponsorship Policy to better, nurture and retain existing talent Offering more competitive SQE and LPC funding for incoming trainee solicitors for SQE/LPC
  • Removing minimum grade requirements for training contract applications
  • Using Rare Recruitment, a contextual recruitment programme for our trainee recruitment, which enables candidates’ achievements and experience to be looked at in context, ultimately creating opportunities for candidates we might otherwise be missed
  • Partnering with the team at Inspire Law Global to deliver a work experience programme for candidates from underrepresented backgrounds in the legal sector. Three out of four participants from this years programme have been fast tracked to our training contract assessment days. 
  • Improving our work experience programmes and from next year will be offering apprenticeships
  • Many of our partners, including Trevor, and our early careers manager visit school children of all ages to inspire them about careers in law; as well as widening the pool of universities.
  • We train our supervising partners in diversity and Gen Z differences

Identifying candidates with potential to succeed

Standard trainee assessment screening tends to ignore a candidate’s background and how this may have impacted their performance in this stage of the recruitment process. As a result, some candidates from lower socio-economic backgrounds who have the potential to succeed, but who have faced certain acknowledged barriers to success, may not make it through the process.

Rare Recruitment is a contextual recruitment programme used by over 160 top graduate employers to address this exact issue. Over 100 of these are within the legal sector including several of our competitors such as BDB Pitmans, Bevan Brittan, Blake Morgan, Charles Russell Speechlys, Foot Anstey, Freeths, Stephenson Harwood and Womble Bond Dickinson.

Rare seeks to measure a candidate’s academic achievements against various “indicators of disadvantage” to put those achievements into context and to provide an indicator of their resilience, performance, and potential. 

Rare has proven results. In her previous two firms, our Early Talent Manager, Debbie Moors used Rare, and every year has seen at least one candidate offered a training contract who, were it not for data provided by Rare, would not have made it beyond the initial sifting stage of applications. 

We have now introduced Rare as part of our trainee recruitment process. From this years pool of applicants we have invited four candidates to assessment centre who would previously not been successful in the initial screening stage. 

Having Rare helps meet the criteria for the Social Mobility Index and is part of us bringing to life our leading career firm ethos.