Herbert Smith Freehills

At HSF we recognise and appreciate all the differences that make each of us unique. Upholding a culture of inclusion that fosters these differences is imperative for our business and the diverse clients and communities in which we live and work. Embracing a diversity of views means we attract and retain the best talent and provide our clients with the most considered and innovative advice. Our approach to diversity includes initiatives encompassing gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability and social inclusion.

HSF is proud to promote a diverse, innovative culture where high performance, client focus and highly engaged people are our differentiator and where we celebrate the uniqueness of our people. Our firm is made up of people with a range of experience and backgrounds. We strive to ensure that our inclusive environment means our people feel valued and able to perform at their best by being their authentic selves at work. We know that our future success not only depends on being innovative and progressive in the changing legal market but, most importantly, on our people feeling engaged.

BAME In Focus

  • What does HSF do to create an inclusive community at the firm?

    We have a variety of internal committees and networks to support and promote a real sense of multiculturalism and diversity across the firm.  Our BAME Trainee Committee supports graduate recruitment activities and provides informal mentoring and guidance to BAME applicants.  Our annual London BAME summer event is a great opportunity for BAME students, future joiners and current trainees to get together and learn more about HSF’s firm culture.  In addition, our Multiculturalism Network Committee meets regularly to discuss ways to promote multicultural awareness via informative sessions and the celebration of international cultural events. 

    Other internal networks include our Social Mobility Committee, the Ability Network (which focuses on disability in the workplace) and IRIS (HSF’s LGBT platform), amongst others.

  • In what ways does HSF support the recruitment of BAME trainees?

    We work with leading diversity platforms including Rare Recruitment and Aspiring Solicitors to engage, support and enhance opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds, including BAME, to secure work placement opportunities and training contract offers. 

    We also work with African-Caribbean societies at select universities and support scholarship programmes such as the Warwick Multicultural Scholars and Cambridge MCL programmes to promote opportunities for BAME candidates.  HSF also promotes a unique scholarship, the Roger Leyland Excel Scholarship, which offers financial support of £3,000 per year and two weeks’ paid work experience to exceptional BAME students.  Scholars also benefit from being fast-tracked to assessment centre for HSF’s summer vacation scheme. To date, we have offered two exemplary scholars training contracts at the firm.

    As an additional commitment to BAME diversity, HSF recruits 5-6 Indian students from top Indian law institutions to join its London summer vacation scheme.

  • What cultural events or initiatives are promoted to support a culture of diversity?

    Every year, HSF celebrates a host of international cultural events to encourage awareness across different cultures and as part of our commitment to diversity in the workplace.  Historically, events such as Diwali and Holocaust Memorial Day have been marked, and the network has hosted prominent speakers such as Baroness McGregor-Smith to discuss topical subjects such as BAME career progression in the UK.

    In addition, we celebrated Africa Day with international playwright Inua Ellams, who shared his experiences whilst researching barber shops in London and Africa, and used the opportunity to showcase our growing Africa Practice and the launch of our Johannesburg office. This year, we have welcomed the Year of the Dog through Chinese New Year celebrations in many of our international offices.

  • What do HSF do to ensure their recruitment process is inclusive and fair across all ethnicities?

    We make conscientious efforts to ensure our recruitment processes are fair and accessible to candidates of any ethnicity and background.  All of our graduate recruiters as well as graduate recruitment partners undergo rigorous unconscious bias training to ensure that all candidates are treated fairly across the interview stages, regardless of their background. 

    In addition, contextual data recruitment tools are built into our application processes which identifies whether a candidate has any particular academic, personal and/or socio-economic ‘flags’ that may need to be considered.  This allows us to assess candidates’ application more fairly by reviewing them in the context of each individual’s circumstances.