Shannett Thompson, Partner in Regulatory and Chair of Kingsley Napley's BAME & Allies Network, shares her perspectives in The Law Society's Managing for Success magazine about how Kingsley Napley and other law firms have been working to improve the record of the legal profession on diversity and inclusion, and the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"One firm using Rare Recruitment software is Kingsley Napley, the highest-rated law firm in the Sunday Times list of the Best 100 Companies to Work For 2020."
"Recently, we concluded that the proportion of BAME candidates was lower than it should be and that our recruitment process was often focused towards a particular type of candidate. We found that a higher proportion of our BAME applicants were being eliminated at the first stage," says Shannett Thompson, chair of Kingsley Napley’s BAME and Allies Network, and a partner. The firm introduced contextualised recruitment with Rare Recruitment’s assistance, and targeted a greater variety of recruitment fairs, including those focused on alternative routes into the law. It has worked to make its trainee assessment days as inclusive as possible, including tasks that detect aptitude rather than experience, and refashioned its trainee work experience placement programmes to be merit-based rather than reliant on internal referrals. The firm has already noticed a big difference in its trainee applications, Thompson reveals. "This year we’ve had 501 applications, more than double those of last year. Of these, 34% were BAME candidates, up from 29% last year." The firm is also providing part funding for candidates undertaking their Legal Practice Course ahead of joining the firm in September 2021."
"Kingsley Napley also has a range of in-house programmes to address racism and inequality, including compulsory e-learning training for everyone in the firm. It has a BAME allies group, and will keep a weather eye on its progress."We’re in the process of collating and drafting an annual report on our programmes, which will help us measure the success of our policies and initiatives," says Thompson. As of 1 September, the group will have six BAME partners, three of whom are black (including Thompson). The firm has keenly embraced transparency, and its website contains a section on D&I, with full information on the makeup of its workforce – a useful resource for potential employees and clients."
"Meanwhile, Kingsley Napley has held a virtual fundraiser to raise money for the charity Show Racism the Red Card, and has become an inaugural donor to the Jack Leslie Campaign – a crowdfunding drive raising funds for a statue of footballer Jack Leslie, who was denied a cap to play for England due to race. It would be one of the first BAME statues in the country."
As a firm, we have had many discussions about Black Lives Matter and how we can make a difference to the movement. We wanted to do more than just put out a statement of support - we wanted to take substantive action to address the inequalities faced by Black people and other ethnic minorities. As part of this, we are publishing a series of blogs from our varying practice areas highlighting what we are doing, how you can make a difference and shining a light on the issues. The blog series can be found here.
To find out more about careers at Kingsley Napley and our trainee solicitor programme, please see our careers section.