We are committed to fostering an inclusive culture throughout the firm, from entry level to partnership. It is about recruiting, retaining and promoting all groups in the firm fairly, and we have invested in our processes to ensure that everyone has the same chance to develop and advance. An inclusive, forward-thinking culture also enables us to provide innovative solutions to our clients.

Current areas of focus include:

Gender imbalance in senior roles

Recently we delivered a bespoke career progression programme open to all of our female associates – the Female Lawyers Forum. Five plenary sessions covering practical elements of career development were held every two months, delivered by our female partners and an external consultant. In the intervening months, smaller groups met to discuss and share insights. At the start of each plenary one of the senior management team provided an update on organisational changes occurring. The final plenary included two important female clients, together with female partners, to provide the client perspective.

We have also been members of the 30% Club's Professional Services Firms' initiative for a number of years (the 30% Club was established with the aim of having 30% women on every FTSE-100 board). This initiative assesses the specific challenges for professional services firms and is devising new collaborative actions to accelerate progress across the profession. All four year PQE female associates and business services’ managers across the firm are able to participate as mentees and some of our partners and heads of business services participate as mentors in the annual cross company mentoring scheme.


We encourage an environment where the culture and ethnicity of every person can be celebrated, enabling them to flourish and thrive.

We work with a number of organisations to ensure that we are recruiting from a diverse pool of candidates; this includes working closely with organisations such as Rare Recruitment and Bright Network to attract training contract and vacation scheme applications from young people from black and ethnic minority (BME) communities.

Macfarlanes was also one of the first signatories to Rare Recruitment’s Contextual Recruitment System which enables us to understand the context of a candidate’s experiences and qualifications. This is a helpful tool because it shows a candidate’s A-Level grades against the average for their school, as well as other social mobility factors, thereby helping to level the playing field between candidates from different backgrounds. 

We have also worked with an external BME associate and career coach to deliver an initiative for all of our BME associates. This was an opportunity to share experiences and make recommendations on what more the firm can do to encourage an inclusive culture. As a result, we have implemented a number of new initiatives, including the development of a new religious and cultural events calendar, increasing the frequency of internal cultural events at the firm; and implementing a BME reverse mentoring programme facilitated by Afua Hirsch.

Last year, partner Jat Bains won the Investing in Ethnicity Workplace Hero award. Jat was recognised as a dedicated member of the firm’s Diversity Committee, the Trainee Solicitor Committee and a partner champion of the BME & friends staff network. Macfarlanes was also named as a top 10 outstanding employer for investing in ethnicity.

It is about recruiting, retaining and promoting all groups in the firm fairly, and we have spent a lot of time reviewing our processes to ensure that everyone has the same chance to develop and advance.
Louise Zekaria Director of Diversity and Inclusion

Social mobility

We have adapted our recruitment processes to ensure that we recruit the best candidates regardless of their background. In addition to the Rare Recruitment’s contextual recruitment tool, we were one of the first law firms to ensure that the vast majority of our assessment processes for both our vacation schemes and training contracts are scored CV blind. This means that part of a candidate’s assessment is based on their actual performance on the day, which we believe promotes greater fairness.

We are working with Aspiring Solicitors and upReach to better enable us to reach students from a variety of backgrounds across a broad spread of universities. See our graduate recruitment pages for more information on these initiatives.

The Eagles programme is a flagship social mobility programme which the charity East London Business Alliance established 15 years ago in response to record levels of underemployment in East London. The aim of Eagles is to identify and develop exceptional talent that has been overlooked, often because of background, and to encourage businesses to seek new talent in places they would not normally look. In 2020, we hired our first Eagle. Here’s Ajmin’s story. Other members of our Inclusion & CSR team were also Eagles, read Uma’s story.

Partnership targets action plan

This year the firm announced updated gender and ethnicity partner targets for 2026 and 2030. The firm also published a five step action plan which provides the framework by which we intend to achieve these partnership targets, as well as an ongoing process for monitoring progress. A summary of the action plan is available here. These actions, together with all of the other steps that are underway at the firm, ensure that we continue to develop both the strength of our culture and an inclusive environment.


In addition to providing excellent on-the-job training, particularly through working on partner-led teams, we offer extensive legal education and training and professional skills programmes. 

We also have a firm-wide mentoring scheme. Under the associate scheme, every associate is paired with a partner from the same practice area (or they can specify a partner of a specific gender, background or from outside their practice area). It is a fantastic opportunity to receive regular advice and support from a designated partner. As well as a business services development programme, the firm has also implemented a new mentoring scheme for business services staff, secretaries and legal assistants to enable junior business services staff to access guidance from more experienced colleagues.


Macfarlanes is committed to the long-term health and wellbeing of all its staff and partners of the firm.

We aim to create a positive working environment where everyone thrives. Whether it’s a friendly catch up or providing information about our free confidential counselling, colleagues from across the firm will work together to support you and liaise as appropriate with medical professionals with the object of helping you maintain good physiological and psychological health.

We have a ‘wellbeing hub’ which brings together all of our wellbeing initiatives that promote the importance of your physical, financial, emotional and social wellbeing. We also run a range of year-round events designed to raise awareness of health and lifestyle issues affecting mental health and wellbeing. Recent topics have included building resilience, sleep, and nutrition. Regular pension and mortgage clinics are run at the firm by external providers.

Everyone at Macfarlanes is encouraged to access all of the wellbeing resources and support provided by the firm. Further to this, the firm is a cornerstone sponsor of Cityparents and all staff have access to a programme of seminars aimed at helping working parents. We also offer parental transition coaching to new parents. 

We are an equal opportunity employer and if you believe that there are aspects of the recruitment process or job that you anticipate might be difficult for you due to a disability or long term health condition, please contact the Recruitment team as soon as possible and they will be happy to discuss any reasonable adjustments that can be made.

In recognition of our role in setting up the Reignite Academy (in collaboration with five other law firms), Macfarlanes won the Diversity and Inclusion category at the FT Innovative Lawyer Awards 2019. The Reignite Academy helps lawyers, particularly women, return to work in law firms after an extended career break.
We were ranked first in the legal sector in the My Family Care Parental Leave Policy & Reward Benchmark 2019. 250 companies provided details of their current policies and benefits for maternity, adoption, paternity and shared parental leave.

Our diversity statistics

We collect diversity data about our employees and partners annually. View our most recent statistics.

Download our 2021 pay gap report which includes both statutory and additional reporting.