“BakerOpportunity was borne out of our ongoing commitment to find ways we can broaden access to the legal profession to those from less privileged backgrounds. The group’s sponsors are all partners and members of senior management. BakerOpportunity focuses on five key areas: outreach, work experience, monitoring, recruitment and leading best practice. ”
Daniel Ellis, Baker McKenzie Partner goes into detail about the good work being done by the group:
“With the support of Senior Inclusion & Diversity Manager, Justine, we have identified a number of initiatives to raise awareness and tackle issues relating to social mobility. Our approach has also provided opportunities to engage with clients which has provided the opportunity to learn best practice from other industries and to share what we are doing.
“We are well positioned to pioneer the social mobility agenda and are taking an innovative approach to recruiting the next generation of lawyers. In addition to a broad range of initiatives aimed at improving access to the legal profession, this year we became one of the first employers in any industry to sign up to Rare Recruitment’s new Contextual Recruitment System which we will initially use as part of our Trainee Recruitment process. Developed by Rare, this system gives us access to a broad range of social mobility data which enables us to put an applicant’s academic achievements into context.”
How does this work? The system will enable Baker McKenzie to compare the A-Level performance of an applicant to the average grades in their school. The concept of contextualisation has been tried and tested by universities, who have found that candidates receiving “contextual offers” perform on average as well as or better than their peers at university. Rare’s Managing Director, Raph Mokades, said: “It is wonderful to welcome Baker McKenzie as one of our first official Social Mobility Pioneer firms. Their joining is a sign that the legal industry is taking a lead on addressing diversity and social mobility in the City and the UK.”
An important part our social mobility programme is providing an inclusive environment that values difference. In 2015, Baker McKenzie hosted its first Social Mobility Week. The purpose of the week was to raise awareness around social mobility issues and to promote opportunities to get involved. The week included a range of blogposts, an open afternoon and a panel discussion featuring the Director of Access from Oxford University and the Commissioner for Child Poverty and Social Mobility, David Johnston, who commented: “Baker McKenzie is the first employer I am aware of to have held its own Social Mobility Week.”
We were also named as one of 12 Social Mobility Champions last year by the government’s Social Mobility Business Compact initiative and are part of a group of organisations leading the way to ensure fair access to employment and quality work experience for school-age students across the UK. At Baker McKenzie, we run two social mobility driven work experience programmes each year: PRIME and Career Ready. PRIME students receive one week’s work experience aimed at providing a genuine insight into life as a City lawyer, whilst our Career Ready scheme offers six weeks of work experience in our Business Services departments.
And the programme has yielded outstanding results. Samira, PRIME student in 2014 says: “The PRIME programme was one of the most brilliant work placements I have ever taken part in! I’ve made lifelong friends and have gained unbelievable contacts with lawyers at Baker McKenzie. This experience brought me closer to my love for law.”