Research highlights handful of top schools disproportionately dominating law firm recruitment


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Pupils from 10 leading private and grammar schools are 100 times more likely to apply for prestigious law firm graduate schemes than those educated at the bottom 10% of schools, according to new analysis sponsored by Clifford Chance (CC).

New research from specialist recruitment company Rare, whose Contextual Recruitment System (CRS) was launched two years ago by founder Raphael Mokades (pictured) and is now being used by 27 law firms, highlights the disparity in application numbers from those at leading selective schools and the worst performing schools.

Looking at the total number of applications to more than 30 City graduate schemes – including all of its law firm clients as well as names including Boston Consultancy Group, Deloitte and Barclays – Rare found that 3% of them came from former students of just 10 ‘super schools’.

The schools – nine selective, fee-paying schools including Eton, Westminster and Haberdashers’ Aske’s Schools, plus one grammar (Queen Elizabeth’s in Barnet) – represent just 0.3% of the total school population between them.

According to Mokades, the research also suggests that grammar schools could hinder applications, finding that students from comprehensive schools in areas where grammar schools are present are significantly less likely to apply to top firms, even at comprehensives that outperform grammars.

It also shows how proximity to opportunity and outreach from firms increases the number of applications to leading firms, with rural and coastal areas of Britain producing the fewest applications.

So far, the entire magic circle is using CRS, as well as firms including Hogan Lovells, Herbert Smith Freehills, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Ashurst.

CRS can be used by law firms in conjunction with their existing application processes to make it easier to identify talented students from less privileged backgrounds by showing their results in the context of their school and upbringing.

The initiative was initially launched in 2013-14, in partnership with CC and Oxford University.

Those using CRS are able to see an applicant’s GCSE and A-level results in the context of the performance of their whole school, meaning it is immediately obvious when their results may be lower than a rival candidate’s but their achievement may have been greater.