A LAW firm has found themselves in hot water after advertising apprenticeships specifically for black students.
Leigh Day is looking for six black students of Afro-Caribbean or African heritage who have completed their A-levels in London “to a good grade” and want to become lawyers without going to university.
Frances Swaine, Leigh Day’s Managing Partner, said the firm had fewer Afro-Caribbean and African qualified staff “than we ought to for our geographical area”.
She said the firm had not had enough Afro-Caribbean or African heritage graduates applying so she widened their search to students coming out of sixth form.
The company has since come under fire and has been branded “racist” over its public “discrimination”.
Leigh Day tweeted: “Leigh Day are looking for six black students of Afro-Caribbean or African heritage who have completed A-Levels in London, to a good grade level, and who wish to train as solicitors without taking the university route.”
They were immediately met with backlash as many said they thought the firm’s tweet was discriminatory.
One wrote: “Is this legal if they’d asked for 6 white people would this be classed as racist.”
Another added: “What about Jews, Muslims, Asians, Poor White Kids, Any other minority? Totally racist.”
One said: “Racist. Nothing more, nothing less.”
‘WE WANT TO DO SOMETHING POSITIVE’
Ms Swaine told the Law Gazette: “Looking at the group of qualified staff we have many fewer Afro-Caribbean and African qualified staff than we ought to have for our geographical area.
“We made a decision with our BAME committee that one of our aims was to increase the number of Afro-Caribbean and African staff.
“Because we are all in agreement the demographic is not what we would want it to be then we want to do something positive.”
The firm said it consulted with employment specialists to ensure their advertising specifically for black applicants wasn’t against the Equality Act 2010.
Under the “Positive Action” provision of the act, employers can address low participation or under-representation in the workforce.
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The government also advises: “You must make decisions on a case by case basis and now because of a certain policy.”
A spokesman for Leigh Day told RollOnFriday: “An open day aimed at black students to encourage them to apply for apprenticeships is in line with the legislation – this is not a policy and other apprentices working in the firm are from various backgrounds.”
The Sun Online contacted Leigh Day for comment.
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