Breaking Barriers and Bridging Gaps

enei Marketing, PR, and Communications Coordinator, Cathy Hudson, shares key insights from our recent legal sector networking roundtable, highlighting pivotal discussions on DEI within the legal industry.

Social inequality between the rich and ordinary people is depicted in this image. Five people in silhouette stand on one side of a pair of giant scales, while on the other side sits one figure in a top hat and seems to sit atop a bag with a dollar sign.
Image by Prazis Images on

A Networking Event with a View

We recently had the pleasure of attending a networking roundtable event for the legal sector at the stunning offices of Eversheds Sutherland. With my marketing hat on, I was in awe of the beautiful surroundings, especially the breathtaking view of St. Paul’s Cathedral dome that accompanied our lunch. The event provided an excellent opportunity to capture a plethora of photos for both work and personal posts. However, the true highlight of the day was the insightful and considered conversations sparked by the tabletop discussions.

Addressing Social Mobility in the Legal Sector

The attendees, primarily HR professionals and DEI practitioners within law offices, shared their struggles, with one underlying issue standing out: social mobility. To provide some context, social mobility refers to the ability of individuals to move up the socio-economic ladder. In the legal profession, this is often hindered by the industry’s traditional practices and its historical association with exclusivity.

The legal profession is an industry that has long been perceived as having a closed door to anyone without an “old boys club” membership card.

Cathy Hudson, Marketing, PR, and Communications Coordinator.

However, it’s heartening to note that change is on the horizon. There’s a growing recognition of the lack of representation from underrepresented communities within the legal sector. This awareness has led to the championing of various initiatives designed to level the playing field. These initiatives are extensive, offering support from recruitment through the entire work lifecycle.

Identifying and Overcoming Barriers to Entry

Recognising the barriers to entry into the legal profession is crucial. For many, the journey begins with education and access to prestigious institutions. The Sutton Trust, for example, does an admirable job of helping talented students from working-class backgrounds gain entry to Oxbridge. However, the challenge doesn’t end there. Once these young individuals are surrounded by peers from privileged backgrounds, the cultural gaps become glaringly apparent. The financial outlay required just to participate in university life can be daunting for those without the means.

Likewise, seasoned legal professionals might not fully grasp the unseen costs of a pupillage or the expected norms and social etiquettes of working in a solicitor’s office. This lack of understanding can create significant hurdles for newcomers from less privileged backgrounds. It’s not just about getting a foot in the door; it’s about navigating the intricate and often unspoken rules that govern professional conduct and advancement within the industry.

Our roundtable discussions highlighted these issues and explored the various forms of assistance available to address them. From mentorship programs to financial support for professional development, there are numerous initiatives aimed at bridging these gaps. The goal is to create an inclusive environment where talent can thrive, irrespective of background.

As we continue to champion DEI within the legal sector, it’s essential to keep these conversations alive. By sharing our struggles and successes, we can collectively work towards a future where the legal profession is accessible to all. Social mobility shouldn’t be a distant dream; it should be a tangible reality for anyone with the talent and determination to succeed.

This blog post was written by Cathy Hudson, enei Marketing, PR, and Communications Coordinator. It was posted on 04 July 2024. 

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