A first of its kind pilot scheme has been launched to help improve the chances for less-advantaged young people to get into their dream career in the legal sector.

The scheme, which is being run in partnership with Rare and the Law Society of Scotland, will give legal employers in Scotland the opportunity to use Rare’s contextualised recruitment system which can analyse background and potential barriers to academic performance of potential solicitor trainees. The system looks at wider personal circumstances, for example it takes into account the fact that students might not have yet had the chance to perform to their fullest potential, for reasons such as having had to act as a young carer, work for significant periods to support a low-earning household or attend a low-performing school.

Using a contextualised recruitment system is one of the key policy recommendations from the Social Mobility Commission in their 2019 report for employers to improve social mobility, citing Rare specifically as a potential partner.

Rare’s existing client base includes a lot of law firms, particularly those south of the border who recruit graduates on a large scale. This pilot initiative is designed to allow the vast majority of Scottish legal employers to buy into a collective scheme to use Rare’s software in an agreement facilitated by the Law Society. Employers will pay a set fee per trainee recruited, therefore even firms and organisations taking on one or two trainee solicitors can participate for a small cost.

Carly Gilberg, Senior Manager at Rare responsible for law programmes, said: "The positive impact that a diverse workforce has on the bottom line is indisputable. We're pleased to have joined forces with the Law Society of Scotland to support Scottish firms who want to find the best candidates, irrespective of background."

Olivia Moore, Interim Head of Careers and Outreach at the Law Society said, “No one should be prevented from becoming a solicitor based on their upbringing and we’re committed to ensuring the Scottish legal profession is open to all and made up of the communities it serves.

“Social mobility underpins a lot of the outreach work we do to ensure talented individuals can flow through the legal education and career pipeline, ultimately ensuring the legal profession is accessible to individuals from all backgrounds. Increasingly we’ve had employers asking the question, ‘what can we practically do to improve social mobility?’, wanting a tangible solution rather than best-practice guidance as they look to ensure all talented young people are given the opportunity to succeed. This partnership is a great way to ensure employers have the tools to take individual circumstances of potential trainee solicitors into consideration. We look forward to seeing the results from the pilot, which will hopefully point to candidates identified using Rare’s software successfully being recruited into trainee roles.”

Dickson Minto is the first firm to sign up to the pilot scheme and use Rare’s software as part of its next trainee recruitment round. Douglas Armstrong, Managing Partner, said “We’re delighted to be integrating a contextualised recruitment system at Dickson Minto as we are committed to attracting talented trainees from all backgrounds who demonstrate potential. We look forward to working with the Law Society and Rare and hope that this scheme will help improve social mobility in the legal profession.”

There are still opportunities open for legal employers to join the pilot scheme. For more information, contact Olivia on oliviamoore@lawscot.org.uk

Contextualised recruitment

We have brought contextualised recruitment software to the Scottish market by working in partnership with Rare. This is a robust way to tackle social mobility, enabling employers to recruit in an objective, socially responsible and affordable way.