Dentons: Challenging Tradition in Legal Sector Early Careers Recruitment

Leading global law firm Dentons has revolutionised its approach to identifying its lawyers of the future. Driven by a strategic vision to improve accessibility to the legal sector and drive diversity and inclusion across the firm, the firm’s new innovative recruitment experience launched in October 2022 within the UK, Ireland and Middle East.

Dentons makes no secret of its willingness to challenge the status quo in order to better serve clients, offering a career path with unprecedented opportunity. Trainees and Apprentices say that the things that make Dentons different are the very same things that drew them to the Firm. 

Each year Dentons receives 1000s of applications for their 45+ graduate and apprentice positions. The firm wanted to challenge the way in which legal talent is attracted and recruited and ensure their process was helping them to identify individuals with future potential. 

In terms of graduate and apprentice recruitment, the legal sector has typically used traditional, “single criterion” assessments, where the decision on who to progress is made based on a single attribute – often verbal or critical reasoning. As well as only getting a narrow view of candidates, at the benchmarks often used, these assessments can favour certain groups of candidates, undoing the good work done at the attraction stage to build a diverse pipeline.  Dentons wanted to move away from this and get a more holistic view of the firm’s future talent – as well as understanding candidates’ applied intellect, they also wanted to understand how they would behave in typical situations they would face as a graduate or apprentice at Dentons, and they wanted to hear directly from the candidates about their motivation for a career in commercial law. Using a unique model for identifying potential, candidates are immersed into life at a law firm, responding to real-life scenarios whilst being assessed on key criteria. 

The new blended assessment provides an overall ‘potential’ score for decision making and a personalised feedback report for candidates.

This blended approach enables candidates to better demonstrate their full range of skills and capabilities.  Most importantly, through the easy integration of bespoke video and image content, it provides realistic insight into the legal sector and Dentons, in a way traditional assessment tools cannot. This is critical at a time when competition for legal talent is fierce, and candidates rightly see the assessment process as an extension of attraction activity.

Created in partnership with leading Early Careers Recruitment Specialists, Amberjack, this innovative assessment has been specifically co-created for the legal sector and is the first of its kind. It has been designed alongside Diversity specialists and Occupational Psychologists and uses in-depth analysis of what is required to be a successful future Lawyer. It has been mapped against industry frameworks for consistency and transparency to provide the most robust Early Talent legal assessment in the sector.

Nicholas Cole, Head of Resourcing at Dentons said ‘We were very clear in our objective to change how we recruit new talent into our firm. Whilst our process had worked in previous years, we are acutely aware of the huge changes and challenges in our sector. We needed a new approach that would help us identify potential talent without disadvantaging underrepresented groups, while improving the candidate experience and differentiating us in the market.  Amberjack supported us to create the perfect solution. We are excited about seeing the full impact of the results in 2023.’

Martin Kavanagh, Head of Assessment at Amberjack stated ‘We were extremely excited to be able to build our Legal Future Potential Assessment in partnership with Dentons. Their vision to create a more inclusive and immersive process gave us the opportunity to design an assessment that is tailored specifically to what the legal sector needs and address the issues we see in the traditional assessment process where very high sift scores on single criterion assessments favour certain groups of individuals disproportionately.’

Find this press release on Dentons’ website here.

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