Inclusive recruitment

Our vision is to be the leading global law firm for diversity and inclusion.

From bold and ambitious targets to drive gender diversity across our leadership and launching market-leading parental policies in Asia; to improving ethnic minority representation across our offices and developing a truly global approach to mental health and wellbeing and leadership on LGBT+ advocacy.

Living our values

Our vision is ambitious and global. We recognise the power of diversity and inclusion to drive innovation, collaboration and business outcomes. By enabling our people to be their unique selves every day - we are Leading for Inclusion.


We partner with Rare Recruitment who offer an introductory programme for students from ethnic minority backgrounds, to the world of commercial law through ‘Articles’ and ‘Rare Foundations’. Our Roger Leyland Memorial Scholarship (in memory of Roger Leyland, the first black partner at the firm) provides exceptional black and minority ethnic students with a high level of financial support throughout their university studies, as well as work experience.

We offer mentoring programmes for future joiners and trainees from ethnic minority backgrounds, and we’ve expanded on our relationship with Aspiring Solicitors to launch an industry-first mentoring scheme specifically for black students interested in a career in law. Our BAME Trainee Committee is focused on supporting the recruitment of diverse graduates and helping to create a more inclusive workplace. The Committee plan a range of events, including an annual ‘Multiculturalism in the City’ panel and launched a peer mentoring initiative.

We’ll also be participating in the Aspiring Solicitors Culture event aimed at discussing cultural diversity within the legal profession and the steps necessary to strengthen inclusion for those from underrepresented ethnic and religious backgrounds. We’re a sponsor of Bright Network’s Black Heritage event and the University of Warwick’s Multicultural Scholars programme. Outside of the UK, we offer penultimate-year law undergraduates studying at university in India the opportunity to join our summer vacation schemes.

If you’re a first-year student from an ethnic minority background, find out more about how you can apply to our Roger Leyland scholarship here.

Social Mobility

We’re committed to improving access to the legal profession for all, including those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We’re proud to be ranked 19 in the top 75 UK employers by the Social Mobility Employer Index 2019.

Through both our sponsorship of the Rare Discuss programme and partnership with Rare Vantage, we’re connecting with students from lower socio-economic backgrounds interested in commercial law. We use a contextual data system to allow us to understand the context in which a candidate has gained experience, so we don't miss out on recruiting talented individuals.

We also collaborate with the Social Mobility Foundation and Aspiring Solicitors to increase diversity throughout the legal profession through mentoring, coaching, workshops and application advice to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We have dedicated social mobility partners, a recently established Social Mobility Network, and we’re also a founding member of PRIME, an alliance of UK law firms that aims to improve young people’s access to the legal sector.


We have a longstanding and market-leading commitment to LGBT+ inclusion; we’re a Stonewall Top Global Employer and our Inclusion, Respecting Identity and Sexuality (IRIS) Network is involved in a range of advocacy initiatives in support of LGBT+ rights across the world. Our IRIS Network co-founded DiversCity, a cross-firm organisation set up to encourage members of the LGBT+ community to apply to City law firms and to build confidence among these students. Each year, we take part in this event to give students the chance to talk to representatives from some of the top firms about what it’s like to be out in the city. This year, we’re participating in the Aspiring Solicitors’ Pride event, hosting our own insight day for aspiring LGBT+ lawyers and partnering with myGwork on a range of campaigns aimed at LGBT+ professionals and graduates.

According to research, as many as 50% of LGBT+ employees don’t disclose their sexuality or gender identity in their first job – and we don’t think that’s right. Here at Herbert Smith Freehills, we have an inclusive, supportive culture fostered through our IRIS Network and Ally programme. Our IRIS Open Day is your opportunity to find out more about a career in law at the firm and discover how our inclusive culture will help you and support your career. You’ll hear about the firm, the work we do and our LGBT+ initiatives, as well as meet trainees and associates who are part of our IRIS Network. Click here to apply.

This opportunity is open to all disciplines and students in any year, as well as graduates.


12 October 2020


1–27 September 2020


Our Ability Network works closely with MyPlus Consulting to shape our workplace adjustments and to ensure that everyone is supported in their role if they’re affected by a physical or mental disability. We hold events for students with a disability through MyPlus and Aspiring Solicitors, where we explain the importance of disclosing a disability in our application form and how you can use your disability to evidence your adaptability and resilience in the recruitment process. We also hold these events to explain the adjustments we can make to the assessment process to ensure everyone has equal access to our firm and to build confidence in talented students with a disability. This year, we made a commitment to the Valuable 500 to continue to prioritise global disability inclusion. We’ve also recently partnered with Aspiring Solicitors on a new mentoring scheme which is focused on candidates with a disability. We recognise the wealth of talented disabled candidates and want to help them navigate our recruitment process and improve their understanding of the nature of our work.

To find out about the support we provide to students with disabilities and long term health conditions during the application and recruitment process, and within the workplace, please view our profile on MyPlus Students’ Club - Herbert Smith Freehills


Our Women Trainee Lawyers Network (WTLN) is a trainee-led network with the aim of raising awareness of gender diversity issues and providing a community to address the needs of female trainees.

The WTLN run events for trainees and junior associates (of all genders), such as networking events with female newly qualified solicitors to encourage the sharing of experiences and to give advice to trainees in their progression through the training contract. The WTLN also regularly hold workshops on various topics, with recent workshops covering unconscious bias and assertiveness.

In 2019, we reset our bold and ambitious targets – by 1 May 2023, women will comprise 35% of partner and partner leadership roles. We’re committed to increasing gender diversity, as of May 2020, 27% of our global partnership are women.

Any Questions?

You can view a selection of frequently asked questions about life at the firm and our range of opportunities via the button below.