Taking Steps to Continue Supporting Underrepresented Talent


28th May 2020

Read time

3 minutes

The pandemic has seen a shift back to a buyers’ market within hiring, and an expected drop of 21% in the volume of school leaver placements by legal firms. This leads to more competition for fewer places. Sadly, we know from past experience that all too often this means those less advantaged miss out on even more.

Law firms who rely on more traditional routes such as online postings, jobs boards and social media to advertise their opportunities have traditionally found it difficult to attract those from economically disadvantaged or diverse backgrounds.

Whereas directly engaging with appropriately targeted schools and young people has offered those from traditionally under-represented backgrounds the chance to both understand the sector, and that these opportunities are truly open to them. They can also develop the skills and competencies to succeed in rigorous and competitive hiring processes.

Unfortunately, there’s great concern that all the great progress made by the sector could be reversed next year, as work experience programmes, open days and school engagements are likely to be cancelled or reduced.

Stephenson Harwood – Reversing the Sad Truth That ‘Talent is Everywhere, But Opportunity is Not’

It’s a difficult time for decision makers, and no-one has all the answers. However, some law firms, such as Stephenson Harwood, are taking innovative, pro-active steps to ensure that under-represented talent is given equal opportunity. Their innovative actions create opportunities to connect, and generate a sense of belonging, even if face to face engagements aren’t possible.

Graduate Recruitment Manager, Sarah Murray, said:

“Ensuring we are able to find and support the best talent, from a diverse range of backgrounds, is not only crucial to the success of our future talent programmes, but of the utmost importance to the firm. We recognise the possibilities provided by multiple touch points in supporting students, without a ready-made network, to not only help them understand the sector, but to see it as a viable and achievable opportunity.”

Stephenson Harwood’s Bold Threefold Approach

  • Target schools in areas of the country frequently overlooked by professional services firms.
  • Ensure any interested student is given digital access to mentors at the firm. This will enable them to understand more about life at a law firm and the broad range of employees’ backgrounds.
  • Develop modules which up-skill potential applicants in required competencies, and expand their capabilities. Consequently, helping their application process, and teaching them the importance of traits such as resilience, commercial understanding, and well-being.

Certainly, Stephenson Harwood is showing a real commitment to supporting young people, by building competencies that stand them in good stead whatever their next steps. An incredible commitment in an employment market that will be tougher than ever.

Sarah Murray added,

“We are really excited to be working with Connectr, and providing students, from disadvantaged backgrounds, access to mentors, support and insights through their employee and candidate engagement platform. This will maximise their chances of success in our early career programmes.”

For more information on innovative and effective measures to digitally engage schools and young people, chat to us.