In recent years firms have made concerted efforts to cast their graduate recruitment nets wider in a bid to hire trainees who dont have degrees from Oxbridge. Most firms will tell you that theyre happy to receive applications from students at most universities, or indeed former polytechnics. But it seems some Manchester University students still arent convinced that they will make the grade and are shunning City firms. Indeed, as we report in this issue of Lawyer 2B, some City firms are so concerned about the lack of applications from Manchester students that they recently joined forces to host an event dubbed Manchester Law in the City.
The open day, which was run by Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Linklaters, Lovells and Slaughter and May, was designed to give the participating firms an opportunity to sell themselves to Manchester students.
Its obvious why firms want to market themselves to Manchester students. Theyre a clever bunch, with the vast majority boasting three grade As at A-level. Whats more, the university has a fantastic reputation and has bred a number of leading City lawyers, including the likes of former Freshfields banking partner David Ereira, who is joining Linklaters, and Weil Gotshal & Manges London managing partner Michael Francies.
So why are students shying away from the capital?
One cited the cost of living in London. Theres also the Oxbridge factor. Although firms are now less biased towards Oxbridge graduates, it seems that this simply isnt washing at Manchester. One student who comfortably satisfies the minimum academic qualifications to secure a training contract told Lawyer 2B that some City firms feel unreachable.
City firms are therefore going to have to try a lot harder to scale the North-South divide.