Narrow view of diversity leaves age on sideline

Bridget Prentice, legal services minister, should not be disappointed with a 34% response from law firms on diversity statistics (, 25 July) – that’s pretty good.

What is disappointing is that Prentice and, from what I gather, the law firms that have replied, seem to have such a narrow view of diversity.

For Prentice, diversity is restricted to gender and ethnic background, despite the fact that women out-number men in law schools and in most law firms – in Herbert Smith’s published statistics, 56.1% of trainees are female.

According to the Law Society, the percentages of ethnic minorities in law schools and law firms are rising steadily, although perhaps not in the top City companies.

What is off the charts and strictly taboo is age diversity. Herbert Smith was praised for its “bold” diversity policy, but its statistics only cover gender, minority ethnic, disability and part-time workers. There is no breakdown by age.

The Department for Constitutional Affairs’ discussion paper, Entry to, and Retention in, the Legal Profession, which was designed to formulate policy, does not even mention age.

When a mature student is 26 and firms retain retirement ages of 55, it is little wonder older law graduates really struggle to find work.

Joyce Glasser
Clearpoint Consulting

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