Magic circle firms are among top international practices that are stepping up their bid to promote social diversity in the profession, it was announced today.

Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May, along with Norton Rose Fulbright, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith, have signed up to a contextual recruitment tool that monitors and analyses social mobility.

The system is believed to be the first graduate recruitment tool that helps firms to calibrate and quantitatively measure the social mobility characteristics of individuals.

For instance, firms will be able to assess a candidate's academic performance against the overall performance of their school.

Baker & McKenzie and Hogan Lovells announced in May they planned to fully integrate the system in time for the 2015/16 graduate recruitment season. The following month Ashurst and Herbert Smith Freehills announced their intention to use the system.   

The system, developed by graduate diversity recruitment company Rare, will depend on two databases – one of all 3,500 secondary schools and sixth-form colleges in England, and all their exam results since 2007; and one of 2.5 million UK postcodes.

The information, along with responses to other questions, will produce real-time contextual information on all candidates.

Linklaters graduate recruitment partner Simon Branigan said the use of contextual data would ensure the firm had ‘as complete a picture as possible’ to identify top talent when it is recruiting.

‘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,’ Branigan said.

The announcement comes after research published this week shows more than two-thirds of employees in the legal sector have unconscious racial bias.

According to business support charity Business in the Community, 67.8% of employees in the UK legal sector have unconscious racial bias compared with 66.4% in the US and 68.7% in Europe.

Business in the Community said the findings did not imply the sector was racist but unconscious bias ‘may influence decision-making in recruitment and progression’.