The Independent is reporting that Clifford Chance has “quietly introduced a “CV blind” policy for final interviews with all would-be recruits,” to overcome Oxbridge bias. There are lots of interesting questions to ask about this. Why quietly? I am guessing this is/was to see how they feel about the quality of recruits a couple of year in without committing to the scheme prematurely. Also, they may wish not to advertise too forcefully that they are not just recruiting other than from “the best” universities. Reputations for quality have been built, somewhat spuriously in my view, on they all come from X Y or Z for a long time and take some managing. This may be why the story appeared in the Indy and not the Times.
And then this, “Staff conducting the interviews are no longer given any information about which university candidates attended, or whether they come from state or independent schools.” Hard to believe this information does not often emerge but it’s an interesting start.
Some online (HT Ed Machin esp) have noted that CV blindness may be more impactful at the CV sifting stage. I’d tend to agree; the benefits may be extended further into the process. There is some evidence that it is nevertheless having an effect (one year, self reported data, but still). The Independent quotes:
In its first year of operation, the scheme has seen its annual intake of 100 graduate trainees come from 41 different education institutions – a rise of nearly 30 per cent on the number represented in the previous year under the old recruitment system.
If this evidence is sustained then it is a step in the right direction, both on diversity grounds and on merit. There’s evidence from the US that the best predictor of those lawyers that succeed are those that come from the upper echelons of their law school class, not those that hail from elite law schools. Firms are wise to trawl more widely. As a senior employee says in the Indy story: “We’re looking for the gems and they’re not all in the jeweller’s shop.”
Somewhat amusingly, “A Russell Group spokesman declined to comment as the scheme did not adversely affect its students.” I am bemused. It’s likely to benefit quite a lot of Russell Group students, perhaps them most of all. What’s not to like?
There’s more interesting detail on CCs process, which goes deeper than simply Uni blind interviewing, in the Independent story here. There’s also an alternative explanation for the change in numbers: positive attempts to recruit particular ethnic minorities may have driven a wider search (see Lawyer 2B).