Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Belong to a collective. Excel as an individual.

Belong. Excel.

These aren’t words on a page. For us, they are inseparable, non-negotiable cornerstones that support everything we do and achieve as a business. We know that unless our people truly feel like they belong here, we can never excel.

When diverse organisations bring people and perspectives together, our solutions are stronger and more sustainable. But that doesn’t happen by accident. Equity and diversity require a truly inclusive environment. That’s why fostering a culture where our people are accepted for who they are and feel able to truly reach their full potential has been a priority for us for many years.


We all excel when we’re empowered.

Being part of A&O Shearman means being committed to cultivating a diverse, inclusive culture for each other. Our clients expect the best collaborative solutions, so we foster working relationships that allow anyone to bring their authentic self to work. This is a global priority for the firm, and critical to why everyone can truly belong and excel.

We hold ourselves accountable, and believe that it’s important to be transparent about where we are and where we’re going. That’s why we’ve made our inclusivity reports public.

Our Diversity Programmes

We run a number of diversity programmes in collaboration with partner organisations to ensure we’re as inclusive as possible. 

B.U.I.L.D. (Black Undergraduate Internship & Lawyer Development)

We run this programme to help provide work experience and mentoring opportunities for talented students (university level and above) from the Black community. This is a global opportunity for the firm, and critical to why you will be all be able to belong, and excel.  Learn more

Aspiring Solicitors Women in Law

This event increases the understanding and awareness of the challenges facing female lawyers in private practice and in-house. Learn more

Rare Articles

Articles is a multi-award-winning development programme for candidates applying for vacation schemes and training contracts, consisting of one-to-one coaching sessions, in-person group sessions and support with applications and interviews.  Learn more

Future City Lawyers

British Inter-University Commercial Awareness Competition (BIUCAC) was created to level the playing field and provide a platform for non-Russell Group law schools to showcase their outstanding talent to leading law firms.  Learn more

Smart Start

This programme provides young people facing socio-economic barriers with access to high-quality work experience. Learn more

A&O Shearman REACH Mentoring Scheme

This scheme is run by our Race & Ethnicity network. It offers mentorship during and beyond schemes and is focused on improving the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities within the firm. The scheme is also deeply committed to enabling social mobility regardless of racial or ethnic background.

Our Partnerships

We’re partnering with a range of organisations to empower diversity, equity and inclusion, beyond our walls. We know that we can’t tackle widening access on our own, we need to work collaboratively with partnerships and those who are experts in the space to drive real change and widen our reach.

Then & Now

Our A&O Shearman Lawyers all started from somewhere. From all kinds of backgrounds. Through every stage of their life, from personal to professional and the challenges along the way, our lawyers look back on the journeys that got them where they are today. 

These videos, originally produced under the A&O legacy, authentically showcase the experiences and opportunities synonymous with A&O Shearman.

Our Recent Achievements

We’re delighted to win awards and accolades for the way we support everyone who works here, helping them feel like they truly belong. 

Social Mobility Employer Index

We’re ranked #7 in the 2023 Social Mobility Employer Index.


We’ve been named Social Mobility Employer of the year at The Student Social Mobility Awards by upReach.


We’re proud to be part of the 2023 Stonewall Top Global Employer for LGBTQ+ list.

Business in the Community

For a third year in a row, we’ve been included in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women, an initiative run by charity Business in the Community.

The World Needs Different

We’re proud of the progress we’ve made. But in order to continue in our ambition of achieving true diversity, equity and inclusion, we’re committed to ensuring that we welcome graduates to our firm from all backgrounds.

Equity in Applications

When it comes to early careers, we understand that not all candidates’ achievements look the same, and we want to recruit the best people from every background. We actively promote allyship and provide coaching and support to suit differing circumstances. 

One of the ways in which we do this is by using the Rare Contextual Recruitment System (CRS). We use the information provided as part of the CRS to review applications in the context of each individual’s social and educational background. This enables us to consider whether somebody has, for example, overachieved considering their wider personal circumstances. 
To keep improving diversity at A&O Shearman, we need to measure it. This is why we will also ask applicants to complete an Equal Opportunities form as part of their application. This information will not be visible to those shortlisting or interviewing candidates, but will be used solely for the purposes of monitoring our equal opportunities policy and ensuring we have a fair and equal process. 


We’re making social change, all over the world.

Pro Bono

Our status, expertise and global presence gives us a responsibility to have a positive impact on the world – tackling social injustice and empowering change. In 2023 alone, we provided nearly 111,000 hours of legal work to organisations including NGOs and non-profits. We also leverage our expertise to help find ways to finance their work. 

At all levels, our people are encouraged to volunteer their time and skills on projects including access to justice, education, social mobility and impact finance. We make a difference, and we empower you to do so too. We’re in a position to effect positive change on pressing issues all over the world and help find solutions to society’s most serious problems.

Across the world, we’ve worked with global human rights organisations like the Human Dignity Trust and with REDRESS, working to secure justice for survivors of torture and to challenge laws that criminalise lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people across the world. Closer to home, our lawyers and trainees volunteer at legal advice clinics across London and support charities, advising individuals who cannot afford a lawyer. A career in law at A&O Shearman is your chance to make an impact far beyond the business world alone. 

Community Investment

We partner with organisations around the world to help the communities in which we are based, using our legal and non-legal expertise to improve life chances and tackle poverty. 

Our Community Investment programmes support a wide range of educational, employability and local community organisations. Opportunities to get involved include volunteering for our flagship social mobility programme, Smart Start, through to our employability programme ReStart helping older people return to work. We also partner with charities like the Fair Education Alliance – a collation of over 200 organisations working towards ending educational inequality in the UK.

To find out more, read our pro bono and community investment magazine, Increasing Access.


Minds Matter

Supporting our colleagues and communities

Belonging and excelling relies on openness. Our Minds Matter programme encourages an open culture where we can discuss our mental health, provide support where it’s needed and champion working practices which facilitate positive mental health for all. There are more than 40 Mental Health Advocates – partners and senior support professionals across the business globally.

In the UK, we currently provide access to support through our Employee Advice Line and Private Medical Insurance. All trainees globally have free access to health and wellbeing apps (Headspace, Help@hand and Unmind), and most offices have an Employee Assistance Programme.

We are signed up to the Mindful Business Charter, provide online mental health awareness training globally through Unmind, and host a programme of wellbeing talks and seminars. We are also a member of the City Mental Health Alliance and a partner of This Can Happen – an organisation whose vision is to empower workplace mental health.


Our People Networks

A&O Shearman is made up of many different communities intersecting and collaborating with each other to continually strengthen who we are together.