Robert Elliott, chairman and senior partner of Linklaters, responds to our story ‘Elite firms accused of “poshness test”’.

Following the publication of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s report earlier this week and your article entitled ‘Elite firms accused of “poshness test”’, I would like to stress how important the issue of social mobility and meritocracy is to our firm.  

As a global law firm, we support clients from a wide array of jurisdictions, who represent a variety of cultures, personalities and backgrounds. Carbon-copy lawyers and business service professionals, recruited to adhere to a set of stereotypical traits, would have little chance of building the deep and lasting relationships that we seek with our clients.

It is these relationships, to a large degree, that form the foundation for the success of our business and it is, therefore, imperative that we continue to mirror the increasing diversity of our clients and the communities that we hope to draw talent from. 

In selecting some of the brightest minds in the market, we do of course look at academic achievement, but we also deeply value impressive, non-academic achievements. This helps us to ensure that we are employing intelligent, well-rounded individuals from broad walks of life, who will bring different experiences and perspectives to our business. 

It is for these reasons that we have a comprehensive set of initiatives designed to tackle the issue of diversity; some of which have been in place for several years now. For example, we have partnered with Sponsors for Educational Opportunities and the Amos Bursary, which are not-for-profit organisations focused on improving access to the most competitive professions for students from under-represented and minority backgrounds.

We also work with Pathways Plus, an organisation offering support to high-achieving, low-income law undergraduates, together with the Social Mobility Foundation, which identifies and supports students who would be the first in their families to attend university. 

We are conscious of our responsibility with respect to social mobility and are committed to mentoring, providing work experience and careers events and to working with local schools and colleges.

These activities aim to improve the skills, heighten the aspirations and broaden the experiences of those within our immediate community. 

I know from my own educational background the importance of being given a fair crack at the whip. Improving our diversity make-up is a continuing aspiration and a key commitment for the firm.

The progress we have made in recent years has been significant, but there is, of course, always room for improvement. We do this for the benefit of our business and our clients and also because it is simply the right thing to do.

Robert Elliott, chairman and senior partner of Linklaters LLP