find the latest legal job
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Infrastructure Lawyer/SA
Category: Construction Law | Location: Sydney CBD, Inner West & Eastern Suburbs Sydney NSW
· Global elite law firm · Dedicated Infrastructure team
View details
In-House Legal Counsel (Mid to Senior)| Regulated Markets (Energy and Gas)
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Full PD on Request · Exciting High Impact Role
View details
Family Lawyer
Category: Family Law | Location: Eastern Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Boutique Firm · Great Reputation
View details
UK ‘poshness test’ not applicable in Australia

UK ‘poshness test’ not applicable in Australia

Elvira Naimon

While reports from Britain highlight social class as a barrier to lawyers entering top firms, recruiters believe the Australian market is more interested in well-rounded candidates.

A recent report from the UK's Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission found 70 per cent of job offers for elite financial services and legal firms in the nation went to graduates of selective or fee-paying schools.

“This research shows that young people with working-class backgrounds are being systematically locked out of top jobs,” commission chair Alan Milburn said. “Elite firms seem to require applicants to pass a ‘poshness test’ to gain entry.”

However, recruiter Elvira Naimon (pictured), head of Naimon Clarke, believes Australian firms place little emphasis on class when hiring.

“It's very much about the person,” she said. “I've seen people from very underprivileged backgrounds who have come to the table with great charm and polish and sophistication. I don't think firms care, in many instances, where the person actually schooled.”

Nonetheless, Ms Naimon warned that firms often take into account the prestige of a candidate's tertiary institution.

“One thing we do have a bias over is universities,” she said. “And it's a very open and severe bias for some and against others. There is a preference against some of the newer universities and a preference for some of the internationally known universities.”

Ms Naimon believes class may play a subtle role in hiring: for example, when partners look for young lawyers who share their interests in traditionally elite sports such as rugby or skiing.

However, she suggested ultimately presentation was the most important factor for recruitment, one not limited to those from a wealthy background.

“The expectation of firms is that, when they employ even a junior, they come to the table with a reasonable amount of maturity and some sophistication, regardless of whether they were private school-trained or otherwise.”

Recruiter Daniel Stirling, director of G2 Legal, believes Australian firms may have once been interested in where a candidate went to high school, but this is now less emphasised.

“In the past I think it was more of a networking point, where people might be more willing to hire people who went to the same school,” Mr Stirling said. “There is still some of that, but much less than it was.”

Potential class indicators like world travel might be relevant during graduate recruitment, he acknowledged, because competition for top firms was so intense a wide range of factors was considered.

“I think firms are looking for the cream of the crop, or the top 1 per cent of applicants. So they will consider everything, and that might be their academic record at university but also their extra curricular activities.”

Ultimately, he shared Ms Naimon’s view that in Australia, perceived class was less important than good communication skills and presentation.

“I don't think they're making decisions based on what class of person someone is,” Mr Stirling said. “They're evaluating candidates on a more sophisticated level than that.

“Whatever background you're from, if you work hard and get the right academic scores and interview well when you get the opportunity, you can go a long way.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

UK ‘poshness test’ not applicable in Australia
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Nov 22 2017
Reduced investment protections will make robust commercial arbitration mechanisms all the more critical for investors
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the current trend away from investor protect...
Tsunami
Nov 22 2017
‘Document tsunami’ driving lawyers to upskill in TAR
A prominent Victorian judge has highlighted the growing need for lawyers to expand their knowledge o...
Defamation expert appointed to lead Victorian Bar
Nov 22 2017
Defamation expert appointed to lead Victorian Bar
The Victorian Bar has named Dr Matt Collins QC as its new president, with an additional eight member...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...