The legal profession once again dominates a league table of 75 employers doing the most to improve social mobility - occupying four spots in the top 10.

International firm Baker McKenzie leads the latest Social Mobility Employer Index in fifth place. It is joined in the top 10 by magic circle firm Linklaters (9) and international firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (10).

Also on the list are: DWF (16), DLA Piper (18), Herbert Smith Freehills (19), the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple (26), Freeths (27), Scottish firm Brodies (28), Allen & Overy (32), CMS (33), Clifford Chance (37), Slaughter and May (40), RPC (47), Shoosmiths (48), Eversheds Sutherland (49), Mayer Brown (51), Pinsent Masons (52), Dentons (57), HFW (59), Hogan Lovells (60), Burges Salmon (63), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (64), and Simmons & Simmons (69). 

At seventh place, the Ministry of Justice is the highest-ranking government department, beating the Department for Work & Pensions (29), HM Treasury (43), the Home Office (54), the Cabinet Office (61) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport. The Crown Prosecution Service occupies the 62nd spot.

The index was created by the Social Mobility Foundation, which ranks employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to accessing and progressing talent from all backgrounds. 


Alan Milburn

Source: Michael Bowles/Shutterstock

The foundation says just over a quarter of the employers on the list have social mobility targets. While 45% of applications to all the employers on the index comes from the 24 Russell Group universities, 84% of hires at law firm come from those universities. 

Former cabinet minister Alan Milburn, chair of the foundation, said: 'Social mobility is becoming a cause for more and more of our country's top employers. When politics is weak, society needs to be strong - so it is welcome a growing number of employers are stepping up to the plate. They recognise the need to open their doors to a wider pool of talent both to address growing public concerns about unfairness and to reap the business benefits from having more diverse workforces. The onus is now on all of our country's top employers to do the same.'

The list suggests the profession is making great strides on social mobility - however, progress is still lacking in certain areas. A landmark study of social inclusion published earlier this year showed that the senior judiciary remains the most socially exclusive of all professions. The judiciary has acknowledged that more needs to be done to recruit from the broadest pool of talent and unveiled a pre-application judicial education programme.