Law giant hopes mentor scheme will break glass ceiling

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the world’s top five law firms, is planning to launch a pioneering mentoring scheme to encourage more female associates to aim for partnership.

The programme, which is expected to be rolled out over the next six months, will involve pairing up female associates with female partners.
The initiative, revealed in Freshfields’ corporate social responsibility report, is part of a general mentoring scheme for all trainees and associates at the firm.

It forms part of Freshfields’ overall efforts to improve diversity at its top level. Just 11.8% of its partners are female, according to The Lawyer’s UK 100 Annual Report 2005, compared with 15% at Clifford Chance, 14.7% at Allen & Overy and 12.3% at Linklaters.

Allen & Overy has introduced a coaching scheme for its female fee-earners and senior support staff on ma-ternity leave, and may roll it out to all female staff.

Last week, Personnel Today revealed that Barclays planned to carry out diversity assessments on all its legal advisers, including Freshfields. The banking giant will require law firms to supply details of their workforce demographics.

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