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Corporate Responsibility

A&O: Corporate Citizen of the Year

05 July 2016

London Evening Standard awards A&O for its Smart Start programme.

​A&O’s Smart Start programme gives young people from non-privileged backgrounds the chance to spend a week at A&O and get a real insight into the world of business.

It won recognition for its impact at the Evening Standard Business Awards on Thursday 30 June.

The programme is the first in the legal sector to be accredited by vocational education organisation City and Guilds, and has seen more than 700 students take part since its launch in 2009.  Two former Smart Start students have gone on to secure training contracts with A&O. This year’s programme started in London on Monday 4 July.

Mark Mansell, co-head of corporate responsibility, said: “It is great to be recognised by the Evening Standard for the work we are doing. As a firm, we have a responsibility to ensure that our profession reflects the diversity of the clients we represent and the communities in which we operate. Smart Start is just one part of our commitment to that diversity.

Over 200 people from A&O and our client organisations will deliver the week’s programme, which will build students’ employability skills. A total of 70 students will take part in sessions ranging from mock interviews to preparing and presenting legal arguments.

This year is the first that the Evening Standard has held the Business Awards. The panel of judges who decided the winners included WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell, easyJet boss Carolyn McCall and Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia.

In 2015, 100% of students told us they felt more confident as a result of attending Smart Start, and 98% felt the experience had helped them to develop the skills needed to pursue a career in business.

The programme was delivered for the first time in India in March 2016, and will take place in Johannesburg in July.

More information on Smart Start may be found here:

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