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Our approach to graduate resourcing sees no shortlist of preferred universities and we try to reach as many students as possible once they are at university.

In July 2013, international legal practice, Allen & Overy won the AGR’s inaugural Best Social Mobility Award, a culmination of its focus on social mobility across a number of programmes for the past decade. The company has long worked with school age students to increase the social diversity of those attending university, and it is now seeing results delivered into its graduate recruitment. Sally Shoult, Graduate Recruitment and LLM Specialist at Allen & Overy explains why the organisation’s approach has been so successful…


t Allen & Overy, we believe that for many young people, barriers created by society, environment

and personal circumstances prevent them from reaching their full potential. As a professional services business, we are deeply reliant on the skills and talent of our people and we believe that what many students lack is not ability, but access to the information and confi dence that will help them realise their full potential. Our approach can be split into two distinct categories. Firstly, raising aspirations among school age children; and secondly, attracting and recruiting the very best from the broadest talent pool at university. This is a multi- faceted approach that sees us run a number of initiatives to make a real difference, and it is something that has required the involvement of the whole fi rm. Our Senior Partner, David Morley co-founded PRIME, an initiative to provide 2,500 work experience opportunities across the UK by 2015, which has now been adopted by other industries. Smart Start, A&O’s work experience programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, is now in its fi fth year and we have provided placements and mentoring for over 500 17 year olds to help them to realise their potential. When we survey attendees after the programme, 89% claim to feel more confi dent about their prospects and 81% are more ambitious as a direct result of their involvement in Smart Start. What is key to our success is the support across the

Sally Shoult

Graduate Recruitment and LLM Specialist at Allen & Overy

fi rm from the most senior levels through to our graduate intake (95% of trainees partake in voluntary work and 10% of our UK workforce are involved in the Smart Start programme delivery). There is genuine excitement and commitment to make a difference throughout the company. Whilst Smart Start and PRIME are the backbone of our raising aspirations strategy, it is not all we do. We also

work with Brokerage Citylink running workshops with 14-18 year olds in London’s inner-city boroughs, and we are a founder member of the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law programme, resulting in us giving work experience to 125 year 12 students since 2008. In 2003, we established Artbeat, a community arts educational initiative which has supported us in our aims to build a closer bond between A&O and our local community. We also are supported by partnerships with RARE recruitment and Pure Potential − among others − to raise the aspirations of those from ethnic minorities and socially disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to university and to consider a career in law. Our approach to graduate resourcing sees no shortlist

of preferred universities and we try to reach as many students as possible once they are at university. We work with the careers services and student societies at 47 different universities across the UK. This is now delivering results into our recruitment. In our current trainee cohort of 190, 42 different universities are represented and we have recruited our fi rst Smart Start attendee, fi ve years after he attended the fi rst programme. We have now adopted a ‘talent spotting’ approach across all our social mobility programmes, continuing our relationship with students and encouraging applications. Given the numbers we recruit (90 graduates and 60 vacation students a year) and a small team, we hope our commitment to social mobility has a real effect on widening participation to our profession, and we are excited about the tangible results that this is beginning to deliver into graduate recruitment.


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