The Information Technology Infrastructure Library, better known as ITIL, is the pre-eminent framework for managing IT service delivery around the world. ITIL defines a service lifecycle model that prescribes specific processes and activities during the design, development, delivery, and support of IT services. For the purposes of this discussion, IT services are any IT activities that deliver business value to a company’s end users, customers and other internal or external stakeholders. Examples of IT services include centralized corporate email and corporate websites based on back-end IT processes, such as server and network administration. The current version of ITIL is known as ITIL V3.
By adopting the ITIL framework, companies ensure that their services are delivered according to a set of consistent, well-defined processes that incorporate best practices and processes, resulting in a predictable level of service for users. The benefits of ITIL include reduced cost of service development and deployment, improved customer satisfaction with service delivery, increased productivity from IT personnel, quality improvements, better management metrics of services and increased flexibility in adapting services to changing business requirements.
In July 2013, Axelos took ownership of ITIL. It now maintains the ITIL framework and accredits training and examination institutes. Hundreds of ITIL Accredited Training Organizations (ATOs) are available to deliver training, and ITIL certification exams may be administered at the end of a training course or by an Examination Institute (EI), many of which work directly with the ATOs.
ITIL offers five different certification levels:
Be aware that ITIL uses a credit system for the Foundation through Expert levels, in which each certification earns a certain number of credits. Ultimately, a total of 22 credits is required to achieve ITIL Expert certification. (The ITIL Master has its own set of requirements, which you’ll read about shortly). The following graphic shows the structure of that certification scheme and its corresponding credits.
Before you read on for certification details, it’s important to understand how the ITIL IT service framework is structured and what it has to offer.
ITIL was first developed by the U.K. Government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) in the 1980s as a set of standardized best practices for IT services used in government agencies. From that narrowly focused start, ITIL has been adopted, revised and expanded into a comprehensive framework for managing IT service delivery in companies and organizations of all sizes, across all industries and market sectors.
In fact, IT has become a mission-critical service delivery mechanism for companies that rely on complex computing resources to keep their businesses operating and generating revenue. ITIL allows companies to define and implement a documented, repeatable process that assists them in staying focused on the large and small details involved in rolling out new IT services and managing those services afterward.
The ITIL service lifecycle consists of five practice areas or phases, with supporting principles, policies and processes within each phase:
Don’t let the scope of ITIL scare you away from the overall value afforded by this comprehensive lifecycle for IT services. The ITIL framework gives companies the structure and discipline required to design, develop, deliver and manage new or improved services in a timely manner and, most importantly, on a budget. Before ITIL, a lack of service management discipline and expertise led many IT projects to suffer budget overruns, veer off course or fail outright due to scope-creep, mismanagement and a lack of repeatable results. ITIL solves these problems quite nicely. In fact, ITIL is widely regarded as the pre-eminent standard for IT service management frameworks.
The ITIL Foundation certification covers the basics of ITIL and is where most newbies start the process of learning ITIL and becoming certified. The certification has no prerequisites, and anyone with an interest in the subject matter can sit for this exam. ITIL Foundation certification exam prep can be accomplished via classroom or distance learning options, as well as via self-study. There is no requirement for you to complete a training course before you sit for the Foundations exam. The Foundation exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions that must be answered in 60 minutes with a grade of 65 percent, or 26 correct answers, required to pass the exam.
Although the certification covers all the five practice areas of the ITIL service lifecycle, including how the different lifecycle stages are linked to one another, an IT pro who completes the ITIL Foundation level will likely need to complete the Practitioner or Intermediate certification before being able to qualify for service management positions.
The ITIL Practitioner certification is the newest entry to the ITIL certification scheme. This exam was offered for the first time in February 2016. As the name implies, the ITIL Practitioner certification is based on practical knowledge of ITIL processes and how those principles are implemented in the real world. An ITIL Practitioner can explain how to use the ITIL framework to support business objectives and focuses on organizational change management, communications, and measurement and metrics.
The ITIL Practitioner is considered the next step in the ITIL progression after achieving the ITIL Foundation (which is a prerequisite). It emphasizes the ability to adopt, adapt and apply ITIL concepts in an organization. Although the Practitioner certification is not required for upper-level ITIL credentials, achieving Practitioner certification provides three credits toward ITIL Expert certification. You can prepare for the Practitioner exam through self-study, in-person classroom learning or online and distance learning options. The Practitioner exam is 40 multiple-choice questions and requires a minimum score of 70 percent, or 28 correct answers, to pass.
The ITIL Intermediate certification is module-based, each of which focuses on a different aspect of IT service management. Relevant modules are categorized as either Service Lifecycle or Service Capability.
The Service Lifecycle modules are:
The Service Capability modules are:
To enable candidates to meet their own career goals, AXELOS lets you achieve qualification in one category or by choosing modules from both categories. AXELOS recommends that you have at least two years of IT service management experience. Note that you must complete your Intermediate exam preparation by completing a training course offered by an accredited training organization (ATO), i.e., you cannot self-study then sit for the Intermediate exam.
The ITIL Expert is an advanced certification that encompasses the breadth and depth of ITIL processes and practices across all ITIL disciplines. ITIL Expert certification is a prerequisite for the ITIL Master certification.
To qualify for the ITIL Expert, you must obtain at least 17 credits from the Foundation, Practitioner and Intermediate modules, and pass the Managing Across the Lifecycle (MALC) exam, earning a total of 22 credits.
The pinnacle ITIL Master certification demonstrates an ability to apply the ITIL framework in real-world situations. The ITIL Master encompasses all ITIL principles and processes covered in the Foundation through Expert certifications. An ITIL Master must demonstrate complete mastery of the ITIL framework by completing the following:
The cost of the ITIL Master runs about $4,000, which you pay after an EI accepts your initial application. Given the expense of this certification and its stringent requirements, only serious candidates should pursue the ITIL Master. That said, earning this certification indicates you’ve reached the highest level of achievement in your field.
IT professionals who possess an ITIL certification have always been valued by large corporations who have adopted the ITIL framework as an internal IT standard. What is beginning to change is ITIL’s increasing proliferation. Many small- and medium-sized businesses also now recognize the value of employees with ITIL certifications under their collective belts.
As IT becomes more important, SMBs are realizing the biggest benefits of maintaining ITIL-trained personnel on staff. Though no company wants to see IT projects fail, larger companies can usually absorb the loss of productivity, time and money that accompanies a failed IT service project. SMBs may not have the financial luxury of allowing an important IT project to fail owing to poor management and lack of processes. Thus, the value of an ITIL certification may be greater for enlightened companies that cannot afford IT project failures.
The good news about ITIL certification is that it is a valuable skill for almost any IT professional, from system administrators to chief information officers (CIOs). Many large companies have dedicated ITIL coaches or mentors who help shepherd projects through the various steps of the ITIL framework. These ITIL gurus have a wide understanding of the IT landscape and can usually spot trouble with a service design document or implementation plan in a matter of minutes.
ITIL certification is also a valuable credential for IT project managers, who are in the IT service trenches every day. Most project managers are already familiar with the development lifecycle process, so the principles of ITIL come naturally to them. IT managers, architects and engineers might not ever become ITIL Masters, but even a basic knowledge of the ITIL framework can assist with understanding and supporting the ITIL process.
AXELOS provides a Career Paths chart that maps IT service management job roles with skill levels. This chart is handy for certification candidates interested in specific jobs who need to understand how they fit into the ITIL service lifecycle.
Each ITIL certification webpage provides links to relevant study guides and syllabi. Those pursuing the ITIL Foundation certification should read the three-part blog series on preparing for and taking the ITIL Foundation exam. Those who are thinking about pursuing the Intermediate certification should use the ITIL Intermediate Training Navigator to match desired job roles and skills with the appropriate modules.
Formal ITIL training is available in self-paced online courses, instructor-led distance learning and instructor-led classroom classes. The variety of ITIL training offered and the collection of certified companies offering ITIL training ensures that anyone who is interested in learning about ITIL or becoming ITIL certified has an option that fits their learning preferences.
Although non-accredited ITIL training is available, we strongly recommend that you only utilize an ITIL ATO when you pursue ITIL training. Find a complete list of such training providers on the Axelos ITIL website.
Axelos and the ITIL Development Group, made up of more than 2,000 ITIL stakeholders worldwide, began working on an update to ITIL V3 in late 2017. That work continued throughout 2018, and Axelos has announced upcoming changes to the ITIL certifications known as ITIL 4. ITIL 4 will provide sweeping changes to the ITIL certification program to better align with the growing complexity of modern IT. ITIL 4 also changes some of the certification program terms and titles to align with the new ITIL 4 program structure. Here is a look at the new ITIL 4 program overview:
You’ll recognize some familiar terms as well as some new nomenclature incorporated into the ITIL 4 certification scheme. The certification still starts with the ITIL Foundation, and ITIL Master is still the highest level of ITIL certification, but how you get from Foundation to Master now allows two distinct paths, allowing you to choose the certification knowledge areas that best fit your interests and career goals.
The new Foundation exam is scheduled to be released in Q1 of 2019, with additional certification exam updates scheduled to be released in the second half of 2019. You can find more details on how existing ITIL V3 certifications map to the new program structure here: ITIL 4 Program Updates.
Note: We will update this article as the new ITIL 4 exam preparation courses and certification exams are released by Axelos so check back here often to learn more about ITIL 4.
Ed is a 30-year-plus veteran of the computing industry, who has worked as a programmer, a technical manager, a classroom instructor, a network consultant and a technical evangelist for companies that include Burroughs, Schlumberger, Novell, IBM/Tivoli and NetQoS. He has written for numerous publications, including Tom’s IT Pro, and is the author of more than 140 computing books on information security, web markup languages and development tools, and Windows operating systems.
Earl is also a 30-year veteran of the computer industry, who worked in IT training, marketing, technical evangelism and market analysis in the areas of networking and systems technology and management. Ed and Earl met in the late 1980s when Ed hired Earl as a trainer at an Austin-area networking company that’s now part of HP. The two of them have written numerous books together on NetWare, Windows Server and other topics. Earl is also a regular writer for the computer trade press with many e-books, white papers and articles to his credit.
The Financial Aid Office coordinates employment opportunities available with Center Office of Career Development & Professional Engagement for students on campus. We do not offer a job placement service; students must find and apply for jobs themselves. You don't need Federal Work-Study in order to work on campus. Keep in mind some employers may have limited funds and might only be able to employ work-study-eligible students.
Our office is located in Blow Memorial Hall, room 124. Anyone with questions may contact Student Employment at [[studentemploy, Student Employment]]. All positions on this website are intended for full-time classified students attending William & Mary. Some positions are limited to federal work-study (FWS) recipients only.
On-campus positions pay minimum wage ($11.00 per hour), unless otherwise specified.
Students are limited to 29 hours per week during the academic period and 40 hours per week during all breaks. Employment procedures originate with the hiring department, and applications are processed by the Financial Aid Office. To ensure prompt processing of your employment forms, bring all necessary forms of identification with you to campus. These documents include the social security card, birth certificate, or passport which will be Verified by the hiring department before beginning employment.
Federal Work-Study (FWS) is a need-based program awarded as part of your financial aid package. Priority is given to FWS recipients in filling posted on-campus positions. Although your award indicates a dollar limit, the maximum that you earn is dependent upon the department's budget. FWS is a financing option that helps to curtail the costs incurred while in school.
If you did not receive Federal Work-Study as part of your financial aid award, you do NOT have it.
The Financial Aid Office is working to make student employment at the university an enjoyable experience.
Many of your questions about applying for a job or hiring students for jobs can be answered by memorizing one of our handbooks:
Student Employment Flyer (pdf)
New Student Hire Check List (pdf)
Department Guide (pdf)
Department Student Employee Checklist (pdf)
As we approach our season of summer scholarship and fellowship disbursements, we want to provide additional guidance to all departments. Scholarship and fellowship payments to undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled for credit hours during any part of the award time period must be processed through the Financial Aid Office, as long as the money is designed to cover expenses that are educationally related. We define these as being tuition and fees, room and board, and allowances for books, personal, and transportation expenses. The Financial Aid Office should be notified of the funds which meet this definition by using the attached form.
Funds paid to a person solely for summer research and not one of the educational expenses listed above will be processed through the Accounts Payable (AP) office unless the payment is to be made under an employment relationship. For example, if a student is working for pay in the library for the summer and not enrolled for credit hours, the Student Employment form (STEP) must be completed and the payment processed by the Payroll office. There is an exception for those paid through a fellowship, which requires that the processing be done through HR.
Below you will find a checklist of required application materials, as well as specific instructions for programs, where relevant. All required materials should be submitted before the posted deadlines.
Our Office of Admission has created helpful videos to help you prepare the various elements of your application file.
PhD Applicants and Readmits (fall only): December 15
MA, MS, and Advanced Certificate Applicants and Readmits:
MA, MS, and Advanced Certificate Applicants and Readmits:
FAFSA (U.S. Citizens and Eligible Non-citizens)
Fall Applicants: February 1
Spring Applicants: November 1
To be most competitive for admission and merit scholarship consideration, please apply by the application deadline. We will continue to review applications submitted after the deadline if space is available in the program. The Admission Committee will make a decision on your application only after all the required materials have been received. Please email us at [email protected] to ask if we are still reviewing applications.
Graduate degree applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited U.S. college or university or the equivalent degree from a foreign college or university. Applicants who will have completed their bachelor's degree by the time of enrollment may apply for admission. PhD applicants in Economics, Philosophy, Politics, and Sociology must hold a master’s degree from an accredited U.S. college or university or the equivalent degree from a foreign college or university.
Our programs welcome applicants from all walks of life, from exact college graduates to graduate students, working professionals to career changers. We engage in a holistic review of each application.
GRE and GMAT test scores are not required for any of our graduate or doctoral programs.
People who face utility shutoffs are more likely to also experience poor health, hospitalization, and concerns about their children’s development. And these strains worsen as energy prices rise.
In a new study, Yale researchers set out to better understand what other stressors families experiencing energy insecurity encounter — and make the case for the value of a model known as medical-legal partnerships in addressing them.
Most U.S. states have laws that protect people from the shutoff of utilities — such as water, sewer, and electricity — when these services are deemed necessary to prevent life-threatening medical conditions, often requiring a certificate signed by a physician. For the study, published Oct. 13 in the journal Pediatrics, the researchers surveyed families with children who had received such a certificate about other health-related social needs.
They found that most families surveyed also faced food, housing, and financial insecurity. Most owed arrearages for utility bills, ranging from less than $500 to more than $20,000. Nearly all said their utility shutoff certificates were helpful.
Understanding how often these stressors co-occur, the researchers said, is key to ensuring they can be addressed. And medical-legal partnerships — which situate legal services within health care settings and provide essential legal support for meeting health-related social needs — can play a big role in that effort.
Study authors Julia Rosenberg, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Yale School of Medicine, and Alice Rosenthal, an attorney with nonprofit law firm the Center for Children’s Advocacy and head of its medical legal partnership at Yale New Haven Hospital, sat down with Yale News to discuss the challenge, the benefit of medical-legal partnerships, and the importance of understanding health-related social needs.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
What are medical-legal partnerships and what services do they provide?
Alice Rosenthal: The model of a medical-legal partnership fully embeds legal services for low-income families into a medical setting. So the lawyer is part of the health care clinic, and with that, providers, nurses, doctors, social workers, everybody in the clinic thinks of legal health as part of health care. That leads them to think about and screen for the legal aspects that impact someone’s health and introduce patients to the lawyer so they can address any legal issues.
How prevalent are medical-legal partnerships?
Rosenthal: It’s more likely that a patient will not have access to one in their health care facility. There are very few lawyers in the country for low-income families and most civil legal matters go unaddressed. In the medical-legal partnership world, it’s very hard to find funding to support a lawyer in a health care setting.
Why is it important to have a better understanding of health-related social needs?
Julia Rosenberg: I think as health providers, addressing health from a holistic perspective and understanding all of the contextual factors that can affect health are incredibly important. In pediatrics, we’re often focused on prevention. We have preventative visits where we’re able to guide families and patients and counsel them on all sorts of ways to help children thrive in the future. One of the biggest ways to set children up for success is to make sure all aspects that affect health, including housing, food, electricity, equal access to education, are considered.
One of the benefits of having the Center for Children’s Advocacy embedded in our health care setting is that when we see certain aspects of health-related social needs that can be affected by legal support, we already have a solution available. It’s through this ongoing collaboration that we start to learn how to identify those needs more acutely and are able to intervene.
What did your new study reveal about the stresses these families face?
Rosenberg: We looked at families who had received utility shutoff protection through our medical-legal partnership and found that most had co-occurring health-related social needs relating to housing insecurity, food insecurity, and financial insecurity.
The percentage of families experiencing these insecurities were higher than previous studies have found for adults. Why do you think that was?
Rosenberg: We only have hypotheses right now, but one thought is that when there are stressors, there’s a greater impact on families with children. We’ve seen this trend in other situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic, for example.
Rosenthal: Families with children are particularly vulnerable to these sorts of stressors because of the high cost of raising children. The pandemic laid that bare for all of us to see. Further, as Dr. Rosenberg pointed out, pediatricians are doing a lot of preventative medicine and working with families to identify stressors and alleviate them before they become real problems. That kind of preventative care might not always happen in adult settings.
What do you hope people take away from these findings?
Rosenberg: We have shown that there are health-related social needs occurring at relatively high rates — addressing them is very important. Another important takeaway is the value of interdisciplinary initiatives like medical-legal partnerships. When we’re able to address one of a family’s needs — whether that’s medical, mental health, or health-related social needs — we have this opportunity to provide holistic care and address other needs. And that’s what we can do in a medical facility that has a medical-legal partnership.
Rosenthal: A lot of families we work with are skeptical as to why they would tell their child’s pediatrician about their housing or food insecurity. But when we train providers to think about social determinants of health as part of health care, families feel more comfortable sharing that information and consequently their kids are healthier.
So I would say everyone should have a medical-legal partnership or an interdisciplinary, holistic way of providing care, so that even if you don’t have a lawyer in the clinic, providers know what community resources are available to patients and their families.
Blanket policies to withhold academic transcripts from students with outstanding loan debt to colleges are “abusive under the Consumer Financial Protection Act,” the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found last week. Colleges should end the practice, the agency wrote in a news release on new guidance for federal investigators.
The bureau found that transcript holds because of a student’s overdue loan payments are a coercive practice with consequences that are “often disproportionate” to the student’s original debt. When students can’t get their transcripts, they are often unable to transfer to a different institution, get a job certification, or seek employment in a field that requires academic transcripts.
Until recently, transcript holds were a nearly universal practice in higher education. Ninety-five percent of colleges use them, according to a exact study by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Now, some colleges are taking steps to limit or eliminate their use, especially as a growing number of states seek to outlaw the practice. The U.S. Department of Education has largely declined to address the topic, a response some advocates described as “lukewarm.”
Terri Taylor, strategy director for innovation and discovery at the Lumina Foundation, has been studying the effects of transcript holds on equity and student success. She said that many institutions have viewed holds as a simple warning, whereas some students see them as insurmountable obstacles.
“This issue, for many institutions, is seen not as a student-success issue, but as a line on a balance sheet that their boards ask them about,” Taylor said. “You want students to be current on their balances … But you don’t want to lose them over something that could be addressed.”
But according to Taylor, that’s what sometimes happens when students can’t repay their institutions and remove the holds. A 2020 study by Ithaka S+R, the research division of an education nonprofit group, estimated that 6.6 million people had “stranded credits” — academic credits they have earned but cannot use.
Such holds disproportionately affect students of color and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, a 2021 study found. Sosanya M. Jones, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor of higher education, leadership, and policy studies at Howard University, said that because transcript holds impede economic mobility, they create a vicious cycle for low-income students.
Some of those students “who aren’t paying their debts are not going to start paying their debts because of a hold — they just don’t have the means,” Jones said.
The bureau’s findings follow its announcement in January that it would investigate colleges that extend private loans to students. Private student loans have long been a concern of the bureau, which in 2013 conducted a survey of students struggling under private-loan debt and concluded that private loans often carry fewer consumer protections than federal loans do.
A senior researcher at Ithaka S+R, Sarah Pingel, said that stranded credits are basically “a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The limitations from not being able to get a transcript can make repaying debt even more difficult for many borrowers, she said.
The bureau’s findings were lauded by the Student Borrower Protection Center. Winston Berkman-Breen, its deputy director of advocacy and policy counsel, said access to previously withheld transcripts could be a boon for borrowers who were previously denied them.
“Hiding in plain sight for so long, it’s just considered business as usual until recently,” he said. “We can finally call it abusive, this Catch-22 where we withhold this document from you because you owe us money. But by withholding it, we are prohibiting you from finishing your education, getting that job, and earning the money that you need to come back and pay us for the debt.”
In its findings, the bureau cited some specific abusive practices. At one institution the bureau investigated, transcripts weren’t released until full balances were paid, even when students entered into new payment agreements.
“In some cases, the institution collected payments for transcripts but did not deliver those transcripts if the consumer was delinquent on a debt,” the bureau said.
Eight states have already outlawed transcript holds in certain scenarios. California has the strictest law, prohibiting both public and private colleges from withholding a transcript when a student has an unpaid balance. Some statutes in other states specify certain situations when transcripts can’t be denied, such as when the student is pursuing an employment opportunity. A few other states, including Tennessee, require state colleges to place transcript holds in some scenarios.
Some higher-ed systems have even jumped the gun, eliminating the practice before their state does. In January, after New York’s governor said she’d ban the practice statewide, the State University of New York system immediately stopped withholding transcripts from students with outstanding balances.
Pingel noted that the bureau’s findings do not extend to students who fail to pay their tuition balances or a minor fee like the cost of a lost library book.
An official at the bureau told The Chronicle that its findings are not meant to be all-encompassing; rather, they show the results of investigations into various institutions while maintaining confidentiality. The findings were part of a process for instructing examiners in how to investigate possible violations of consumer financial protections. By publishing the findings, bureau officials hope to help higher-education leaders examine their own policies and better comply with federal consumer-protection laws.
While the scope of the bureau’s findings is limited, Berkman-Breen said, their implications could extend beyond colleges that issue loans directly to students.
“The practice of withholding the transcripts or diplomas or other important educational documents are happening across the board whenever an institution is owed a debt,” he said.
Several organizations spoke out against the bureau’s findings. Career Education Colleges and Universities, a national organization that primarily represents for-profit colleges, said the bureau had overstepped its authority and had not used proper rule-making procedures.
“Instead of engaging institutions, engaging lenders, engaging the public on this practice of transcript withholding, they pulled a new interpretation of law into a guide for their examiners, which is a really terrible way of making policy,” said Nicholas Kent, the group’s chief policy officer.
The Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations also came out against the findings, saying they denied a key method of debt collection for a number of institutions. According to Lori Hartung, the coalition’s president, colleges have few other means to motivate students to pay once they graduate or leave the institution.
Hartung said the findings did not provide much clarity to colleges attempting to comply with federal consumer protections. The bureau did not define what a “blanket policy” of transcript withholding is, nor did it clarify if holds may be appropriate in some scenarios.
The bureau official, who spoke with The Chronicle on condition of anonymity, declined to provide clarification.
The bureau’s findings were specific to certain institutions, the official said, as investigations are done on a case-by-case basis.
Hartung also said that, without the transcript-hold option, some institutions may have to turn to more-aggressive collection measures faster. “They start reporting the delinquent account receivable to the credit bureau or send the outstanding accounts receivable to a third-party debt-collection agency,” Hartung said. “But usually those are more-extreme measures after a period of time where the school tries to facilitate payment in an easier method.”
But Pingel, the Ithaka S+R researcher, said there was little evidence that any of those methods, including transcript holds, are effective in recouping delinquent debt. Based on the limited data available, she said, sending a student debt to a collection agency ends up being “pennies on the dollar based off the real face value of the debt.”
Jones, the Howard University researcher, is studying other ways to equitably solve the stranded-credits problem. She said that debt-relief programs that allow students to re-enroll while paying off their debt in manageable increments is a possible path forward.
Jones said she hopes the bureau’s findings “will actually helped shift the conversation.”
“It’s a win for a student and their rights and their ownership of the credits that they earned,” she said. “It also raises awareness about the devastating impacts stranded credit has on every facet of a student’s life.”
When Tom joined a City law firm, he did not expect anyone to care what his father did for a living, or where he went to school.
“My dad’s a builder,” says the 30-year-old lawyer, who recently moved to the public sector. “When I was about to qualify as a solicitor, I had to give my birth certificate to a partner to confirm my identity . . . On seeing it, [he] leaned back in his chair, looked over the top of the paper and said, ‘Builder? Haven’t you come far . . . ?’ I couldn’t shake the feeling that the comment was at my expense.”
Tom (not his real name) is one of more than a dozen lawyers and barristers who spoke to the Financial Times about incidents that include being mocked for wearing the wrong shoes, having a “working class” accent, or attending a state school. They say that although the profession is slowly becoming more diverse, a culture of casual elitism persists in some top firms, cementing a white, middle-class bias that is holding back social mobility and hampering inclusion.
In spite of efforts to hire lawyers from a range of backgrounds, the UK’s biggest corporate law firms still remain largely white, male and privately educated, particularly in their upper echelons. A 2020 study of 10 firms by the Bridge Group, a social equality organisation, including Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance — which belong to the “magic circle”, the group of international UK-based firms that work on the City’s biggest deals — found more than half of partners attended an independent school, compared with just over 6 per cent of the wider UK population.
A Chambers Student Guide study the previous year found that a third of trainees at the “magic circle” were Oxbridge graduates.
The same issues are common at the Bar in England and Wales. A report by the Legal Services Board, the legal regulator, in 2020 noted that there “is substantial over-representation of lawyers who were privately educated”. White men represented 53 per cent of the judiciary in England and Wales, new figures showed in July 2022.
When lawyers are promoted to partner at Slaughter and May, one of England’s most prestigious law firms, they are given a number. It does not correspond to a locker or desk, but to a pigeon hole in the partners’ dining room, which holds their own napkin.
Slaughter and May has its own specific quirks — partners are expected to sit in the order they arrive at lunch, and pigeon hole numbers 1-10 are auctioned off at Christmas. But dining rooms are common at City law firms and act as water coolers — meeting places for gossip etc (but with better cups). One lawyer with knowledge of Slaughter and May said the dining room was a leveller, and encouraged partners to mix regardless of background though he said it was easier for some to assimilate to than others.
“Most professional service firms are hierarchical environments,” the lawyer says. “If you’ve been through the public school system you know how it works . . . [at boarding school] there are prefects and you had a fagging system . . . [when I started in law] I understood that whatever partners wanted, you had to say yes.” He also adds that he believed “law firms are very meritocratic environments once you’re in”.
In high-octane City firms, associates work gruelling hours under the supervision of partners, and networking with clients to drum up new work has reinforced an emphasis on “affability” and clubbability. One lawyer told the FT that a good test of an associate’s prospects was: “would you invite them to a dinner party?”
Lady Brenda Hale, former president of the UK’s Supreme Court, once said it was “quite shocking” that so many senior barristers and judges were members of the all-male elite Garrick Club. Law firm partners across the City meet clients in private members’ clubs such as Mayfair’s 5 Hertford Street, which prohibits men from wearing collarless shirts, among other things. And lawyers are generally still expected to abide by the “never wear brown in town” shoes rule.
A female lawyer who recently qualified into a UK law firm wrote to the FT to say colleagues with “working class” accents had been asked to “tone them down”. Barristers also say they have felt the need to change their regional accent.
Kathleen Harris, London managing partner at US law firm Arnold & Porter, says: “I grew up in the days where people would call you names . . . but that’s changed, now it’s more subtle, and sometimes the person in question isn’t even aware that they’re exhibiting exclusionary behaviour . . . The easy part is saying ‘we’re totally inclusive’, but you’ve got to live those values.”
Pressure to assimilate to law’s white, middle-class culture is “exhausting” for those from different backgrounds, says Dr Louise Ashley, author of Highly Discriminating: Why the City Isn’t Fair and Diversity Doesn’t Work, published in September. “It’s the kind of exhausting that can affect career progression.”
She says law firms need to confront their cultural biases. “A lot of this does not happen strategically or consciously . . . It’s about institutionalised norms, rituals and customs that are accepted and difficult for the people within them to see . . . ”
The Bar is similarly perceived as dominated by privately educated Oxbridge graduates who are at ease in the rarefied environs of the Inns of Court (Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn), with their ancient squares, beautiful landscaped gardens and large dining halls.
To be called to the Bar, would-be advocates must complete 10 qualifying sessions, focused on courses such as advocacy skills. Until relatively recently these sessions could include eating formal dinners, complete with port and wine for frequent toasting, as well as grace said in Latin.
Tahina Akther, 41, a chancery and family finance barrister was called to the Bar in 2003. She is the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants — her father was a steelworker and she was educated at state schools. “When I came to the inns there was a wow factor,” she says. “It can seem like a different world. I was part of this exclusive club.” But she adds: “There was a bit of a feeling of imposter syndrome . . . Do I belong here? ”
Law firms, the Bar Council and the Inns of Court have all made great efforts to hire and retain a more diverse mix of individuals, through apprenticeships, scholarships — which are merit and means based — and virtual placements open to a wider mix of students.
Allen & Overy, an international law firm, took on its first cohort of legal apprentices in 2022 and Clifford Chance now offers open-access online schemes that a wider range of students can take part in. More than 30 per cent of the firm’s 2021/22 trainee intake attended non-selective state school, compared with just under a fifth 10 years previously, and more than a quarter were on free school meals.
But academics and lawyers say retention is as important as recruitment. According to the Bridge Group report, opacity surrounding the “partner track”, which determines who is promoted, and the importance of relationships with “sponsoring” partners, can “disadvantage individuals from lower socio-economic groups”.
Firms such as Freshfields have put in place sponsorship programmes aimed at promoting a greater number of women. But Ashley says the only sure way to create a fairer process is by ensuring diversity among those who make the decisions. “Democratising organisations and reducing hierarchies are the things that actually work,” she says.
Many individual barristers, chambers and the Bar Council now run events for under-represented groups to promote wider access to the profession. The Inns of Court also run multiple initiatives such as student outreach programmes and scholarships to state school educated students who meet certain criteria such as being a recipient of free school meals.
James Wakefield, director of the Council of the Inns of Court, which has a student outreach programme, says: “The Inns are extremely eager to promote social mobility and diversity and collectively provide more than £5mn a year in scholarships, both for those wishing to do the bar course and the graduated diploma in law. ”
Yet while the Bar is becoming more diverse, some advocates fear that one of the biggest challenges now is retaining barristers — particularly at the criminal bar. A quarter of all specialist criminal barristers, who can earn as little as £12,200 in their first three years, have left over the past five years because they cannot live on the low rates of legal aid pay.
There are concerns that in future years diversity could go backwards — because the ranks of barristers is where the future judges and senior barristers are drawn from.
Peter Eguae, 41, is a criminal barrister who grew up on a north London council estate. He has described reaching the Bar from where he started in life as “like starting the London marathon from somewhere in Cumbria”. If barristers continue to leave, he says, then “in reality, in 20 or 30 years time the judiciary could look like it did in the 1990s”.
Local construction company Kimly had long been suffocating under an avalanche of paper. Projects would create massive amounts of data, transactions and records.
The game changed significantly when it worked with a digital platform and its bankers UOB. Now, the company is not only paper light, but its processes have been tightened considerably.
“A single project can generate hundreds of transactions in a single month,” says Mr Louis Khoo, director of Kimly Construction, “spanning paperwork that covers procurement, payment, certification, and so on.
“We have to work with suppliers that deliver to multiple construction sites, as well as subcontractors on various kinds of trades. Individually, they will have different credit and payment terms, while some suppliers have their own customer portals.
“For just one construction project, there can be up to 1,000 transactions.”
Managing the bulk of information is crucial because poor or missing data can lead to bad decisions, project delays and financial risks.
Kimly, a private company founded in 1965, had been looking to digitalise manual paperwork and trade financing processes for several years before they were approached by local fintech company Doxa in 2019, a start-up that was incorporated in the same year.
“Doxa offered us their online procurement-to-pay platform Doxa Connex, which can help us to automate these complex workflows. The app was in its pre-launch phase back then, and Kimly worked closely with Doxa on refining its features for construction processes,” says Mr Khoo, 35.
In August, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Kimly, UOB and Doxa to pilot their first green trade and sustainable transaction using Doxa’s platform, with a financing module co-created with UOB.
Doxa Connex helps construction companies to digitalise their workflow and payment processes between suppliers and buyers. These include the creation of invoices, uploading and validation of supporting documents including purchase orders (POs) and progress claims.
With Doxa Connex, Kimly was able to save about 30 per cent of man hours in payment processing for its suppliers and subcontractors. “With all the documents now on the platform, Kimly and our suppliers are able to manage our business processes with greater efficiency,” says Mr Khoo.
Leveraging the existing digital data available on Doxa Connex, Kimly can also access green and sustainable trade financing from UOB bank without additional paper documents.
Mr Edmund Ng, Doxa’s co-founder and chief executive officer, shares that the platform makes use of blockchain technology to help verify documents. “This way, Doxa Connex provides financial institutions with a single source of data truth and greater transparency.”
For example, once a PO is generated, the data will be encrypted in the blockchain and become part of an immutable database, which means it cannot change, be changed, or deleted.
“There is no way for anyone to delete or manipulate the data that’s already in the blockchain, and this makes it easy to prove that the transaction in question is genuine,” says Mr Ng, 46.
Construction companies will be able to validate their suppliers’ or subcontractors’ invoices on Doxa Connex, and its trade financing requests will be automatically triggered and forwarded to UOB. This cuts the need for the company to send physical copies of the relevant documents to UOB branches for verification.
Ms Ng Poh Yee, UOB’s managing director and head of Corporate Trade Sales and Financial Supply Chain Management, adds: “From a financing standpoint, we need the same evidences of order, delivery and acceptance of the underlying commercial contract between our client and their suppliers.”
Before it was digitalised, clients would have to collate and submit these documents from various internal and external parties to UOB for verification. The bank also requires a copy of the same documents.
“This duplication means the paper flow is actually doubled as UOB would have had to separately and individually verify the authenticity of each transaction, which adds to the processing time to avail the financing required,” says Ms Ng, 50.
“But with Doxa Connex, we no longer have to do so as our client can easily push the relevant supporting trade documents digitally to us for financing, making the process secure, swift, and cost effective.”
When it comes to financing in the construction industry, suppliers, contractors and subcontractors are often inadequately served, says Ms Ng.
“Especially for green and sustainable trade finance, most of them lack the necessary framework to prove that they meet certain sustainability standards. They may also not be fully aware of the financing options available to them,” she says.
The use of a single source of truth in Doxa Connex to verify supporting documents addresses this issue, allowing UOB to finance not just Kimly, but also all the stakeholders along Kimly’s value chain.
With sustainability being a key focus for UOB Group, the bank launched its Green and Sustainable Trade Finance Framework last year. It was designed to provide businesses with a clear guide on assessing eligible green activities and recognised industry certifications within targeted sectors.
Ms Ng says that simplification is critical as it lowers the barrier to entry and helps SMEs and lower-tier contractors gain access to green financing options, allowing them to partake in a wider sustainability adoption drive.
For example, Kimly’s latest green project, the construction of the Singapore Institute of Technology’s campus at Punggol North, was certified to receive green and sustainable trade financing under the framework. The subcontractors and suppliers involved would also be eligible for the sustainable trade financing as well.
Ms Ng adds: “What is being created is an ecosystem of connectivity that brings together the entire value chain spanning suppliers, contractors and developers, so that UOB can extend our financing to benefit more SMEs.”
The environmental, social and governance agenda has become a growing strategic priority amongst both large corporations and SMEs in the region, according to UOB’s 2022 Asean SME Transformation Study.
Concluded earlier this year, the study captures the sentiments of 1,500 SMEs across five key Asean markets – Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. In the study, two out of three SMEs (65 per cent) indicated that sustainability is important.
Moving forward, UOB is working on a “data super-highway infrastructure” to further the digitalisation of green trade finance.
“We want to bring ecosystem system players even closer together by connecting the relevant certification bodies to the platform as well – so that even the verification of the Building and Construction Authority’s Green Mark certifications can be digitalised,” she says.
“That way, we can truly go from paper light, to paper free.”
This is the seventh of a 15-part series in partnership with
Purchasing a health insurance policy is considered as one of the first priorities if you are planning to come to study or work in Germany. As per the German law, everyone residing in the country must have health insurance, including foreign students or employees. The advantage of having health insurance in Germany is two-fold: First, it provides you with financial help in case of any medical emergencies and second, it is needed to obtain a residency permit or student visa in Germany.
Here’s a guide with an overview of health insurance in Germany for Indian students and employees, the eligibility and benefits and everything else an Indian student or an employee would require in Germany.
The German healthcare insurance is considered as one of the best in Europe. Under German law, you must have health insurance with an insurance provider (called a Krankenkasse in German) that offers at least the minimum basic coverage.
Even if as an Indian you are working or studying in Germany, you are very much eligible to apply for German health insurance and once you become a resident of Germany, you have to register yourself for either private health insurance or statutory health insurance. The state-run and government-regulated statutory health insurance system (Gesetzliche Krankenversicherung, GKV) and private health insurance (Private Krankenversicherung, PKV) can be taken up from any German or international insurance company
To know about private health insurance and statutory health insurance of Germany, read our article for more details.
Ideally, those Indians or expats who are planning to come to Germany for their studies or work, should try to get their health insurance done before they arrive here. However, the government in Germany provides a brief grace period of 30 days, only to European Union (EU) nationals.
But being from a country outside the European Union, like India, it is advisable that Indians must have their health policy in place before they arrive in Germany for work or for study to avoid any hassles and tough situations. Indians also need to have a valid German health insurance, which further helps them to obtain a student or residency visa.
If you are arriving in Germany as a company employee, then your employer will take care of all the requirements related to health insurance, but if you come here as a freelancer, a self-employed professional or as a student, you are required to take up the health insurance policy and must submit all the needful documents required for your insurance and visa application, much before in advance.
But, if you are less than 30 years of age, then it is a legal obligation to have a statutory health insurance policy in Germany. For this, you need to contact the insurance companies such as TK, Barmer, HKK, DAK health, IKK classic, among many other accessible health insurance companies to apply for statutory insurance. Read our article on the best statutory health insurance companies in Germany for more details.
However, for private health insurance or PKV, Germany does offer the insurance coverage, only if:
There are several companies that provide private health insurance to Indian students and employees. A complete list of all private health insurance providers is available on their official website. Remember, all statutory and private insurance schemes have special discounted rates for foreign students.
Statutory health insurance or popularly known as GKV covers most of the German population. So, if as an Indian student or as an employee you are residing in Germany and earn less than 64.350 euros per year, then you will be enrolled in this scheme automatically. Your contributions to health insurance would broadly cover the following benefits:
However, if you take up for the private health insurance policy in Germany, then the Indian students or employees would receive more comprehensive insurance coverage but at costly rates, such as:
It is to be noted that the coverage provided by statutory healthcare insurance in Germany is quite extensive which ensures that all the crucial treatments get covered. However, PKV provides a much wider range of services with faster access and better amenities but at a higher cost.
There is also an option of enhancing the present health insurance coverage in Germany. There is an option to choose supplementary coverage with your present private or statutory insurance, at the cost of extra premium. This additional coverage could be beneficial, if one wants to be covered for the additional benefits which are not included in their present policy. The optional coverage includes:
Once you know which kind of health insurance policy you need to opt for, it is advisable to compare the various insurance providers by using comparison websites such as Tarifcheck, Check24, PKV-Gesundheit to see which company offers the best coverage at good rates.
Then, if you have chosen your provider, purchasing an insurance policy can be easily done by filling up a quick form on their website with your personal details. You might also need some of the following documents:
After filling up the form and submitting all the required documents online, you need to send the printed copy via post to the concerned insurance provider.
As a next step, you will receive an insurance certificate, which can be used as proof of coverage, that enables you to enroll for a university and also can be submitted to the concerned employer in case you have been employed in Germany.
Once you have got the German health insurance policy, now you will be given a health insurance card. This health card is to be shown to your doctor, hospital, dentist or any pharmacy, which will show that you are covered by insurance and thus you do not have to pay upfront for bills related to medical requirements and emergencies.
Residing in Germany without having a proper health insurance policy is illegal. And, if one is found to be doing so, they are liable for a huge penalty. It is also advisable to be very well aware of the coverage and services of statutory or private health insurance providers before signing any contract of health insurance policy. Look for the decent coverage at affordable premium rates to make sure that all your health based needs are met.
On an average, the German citizens are required to pay almost 15.9% of their gross income as a monthly contribution to statutory health insurance. This costing is made up of general contribution rate and individual additional contribution rate.
For more information Read our article Changing Health Insurance, Here’s How for more details on the costing up front of GVK.