‘People are so scared to talk about race in the UK,’ Linklaters senior partner Charlie Jacobs says. ‘They think it’s a landmine they’re going to walk straight into, so they’d rather avoid it entirely.’
A landmine – easy to lay but hard to get rid of – which has seen Big Law for years avoid a substantive discussion around ethnic diversity. Gender is already an uncomfortable topic for the industry, yet not so uncomfortable that it has obscured increasingly intense scrutiny of the profession’s poor record promoting female partners. In contrast, ethnic diversity at the upper reaches of commercial law is rarely addressed head-on, being submerged in the wider ‘D&I’ discussion.