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UK law firms join forces to help less-privileged enter legal profession

David Woods , 12 Sep 2011

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Twenty three of the UK's most prominent law firms have demonstrated their long-term commitment to improving access to the legal profession by launching a profession-wide undertaking to give fair access to quality work experience for young people from less privileged backgrounds.

Supported by the Law Societies of England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland; and The Sutton Trust, PRIME commits member firms to provide work experience which gives an insight into the range of careers available in the legal profession and the potential routes into those careers.

Member firms will provide an agreed number of work experience places that meet a series of minimum standards:

  • Firms must provide a number of places that is not less than 50% of the number of training contracts offered each year. The target for the profession is to provide 2,500 places by 2015, although firms who have already signed up must achieve their own individual target by July 2013.
  • Minimum standards include at least 30-35 hours of work experience per place and a commitment to developing key business and personal skills in areas such as oral and written presentation, networking and negotiation. Firms must offer a way to maintain contact after work experience has ended as well as provide financial assistance during the programme.

David Morley, senior partner of Allen & Overy and chair of PRIME, said: "It's harder now than it was 30 years ago to get into the legal profession if you're from an average or below-average income family. As a profession, we must change that.

"For some time law firms have been providing their own work experience opportunities for less privileged young people. By collaborating across the profession, PRIME will create a step change in the legal sector's commitment to fairer access, giving more students their first insight into the wide variety of career opportunities available in the legal sector. I would urge all law firms to join us in supporting PRIME."

 

The founding members of PRIME are: Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Arthur Cox, Ashurst, Blake Lapthorn, Brodies, Clifford Chance, CMS Cameron McKenna, Dickinson Dees, DLA Piper, Dundas & Wilson, Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Maclay, Murray & Spens, McGrigors, Norton Rose, Pinsent Masons, Shepherd & Wedderburn, Slaughter and May and Trowers & Hamlins.

 

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Are these genuine commitments?

Christine 12 Sep 2011

I am an ethnic minority and from a significantly less privileged back ground. I have good grades from a top college and have applied to a number of these firms for work experience and training contract and had never been success at even getting an interview! Yet my colleagues who have failed exams but are not an ethnic minority have been successful. Therefore wonder if this committment is actually genuine!

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