UK Muslim students “uncomfortable” with city law firm drinking culture

Legal Futures

Muslim students on vacation schemes at City law firms have said the “drinking culture” made it hard for them to take part in social events because of their religion, according to a new report.

Recruitment company Rare also found that Bangladeshi and Pakistani candidates made up 6.1% of vacation scheme applicants but only 3.9% received offers – a lower proportion than those from White or Black backgrounds.

Naomi Kellman, head of research at Rare and author of the report, said the aspiring solicitors she interviewed spoke “at length” about the drinking culture at law firms “and the ways in which this made it hard for them to engage with work social events”.

They expressed “particular concern” about being asked to attend work events in pubs, bars and other venues with a focus on selling alcohol.

“For many Muslims, their faith requires them to avoid alcohol and places that exist with the main purpose of selling alcohol.

“Interviewees spoke about going along to events despite their discomfort, because they knew they had to do so if they didn’t want to be at a disadvantage.”

They often referred to leaving events early “due to being uncomfortable”, feeling that this “likely disadvantaged them when it came to their chances of converting their vacation scheme into a training contract”.

Ms Kellman said social gatherings in law firm offices or a non-alcohol focused venue were “seen as much more inclusive, even if alcohol was being served as an option for people who wish to drink it”.

The report Included? The experience of British Bangladeshis and Pakistanis in City Law was based partly on in-depth interviews with 10 vacation scheme and training contract candidates, six of Pakistani and four of Bangladeshi heritage.

This was combined with data from Rare’s applicant tracking system, which analysed over 28,000 vacation scheme applications to 10 law firms and found that Bangladeshi and Pakistani candidates made up 6.1% of applicants but only 3.9% of those chosen.

The success rate for Bangladeshi and Pakistani candidates applying to vacation schemes was 1.8%, compared to 2.8% for White candidates, and 2.5% for Black candidates.

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Muslim students “uncomfortable” with law firm drinking culture


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