"We must all play our part in creating a truly inclusive workplace and, for us, that starts with accountability. We want to be clear that we recognise the problems within our own firm and are committed to tackling them head-on," said Ian Field, A&O's diversity and inclusion partner. (Photo: John Winfield)

TOP British law firm Allen & Overy (A&O) has set an annual target of having 35 per cent ethnic minority trainees, including 10 per cent black candidates.

The international legal practice said on Wednesday (29) it was also aiming 15 per  partners (currently 9 per cent) and 25 per cent lawyers (22 per cent) and support staff (16 per cent) from ethnic minority groups by 2025.

A&O also stressed that it wanted to improve retention rates of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) lawyers, who currently left at an average seven months earlier than their white counterparts.

“We must all play our part in creating a truly inclusive workplace and, for us, that starts with accountability,” said Ian Field, A&O’s diversity and inclusion partner.

“The stay gap figure is an uncomfortable truth for us and the legal industry, but it gives us an objective way to measure the success of our efforts in this area. We want to be clear that we recognise the problems within our own firm and are committed to tackling them head-on.”

A&O announced the move after Rare Recruitment, a diversity recruitment consultancy, found that the average BAME lawyer’s tenure was about 18 months shorter than white peers across the industry.

Of late, several top London law firms have been trying to tackle diversity issue.

For instance, Clifford Chance — like A&O, a member of London’s Magic Circle of five top firms by revenue — recently said 15 per cent of all its partner recruits and 30 per cent of senior associates and senior business professionals will be from ethnic minorities by 2025.