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New commitment to improve access to the legal profession

 

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.

PRIME also commits law firms to provide work experience which gives an insight into the range of careers available in the legal profession (for lawyers and non-lawyers) and the potential routes into those careers.

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."

Rt Hon Alan Milburn said: “The lack of social mobility in our society is not a problem that can be solved by any one organisation or any one sector. Sections of our society who play a part in the problem, and who have a stake in finding a solution, need to take collective responsibility and work together to provide meaningful solutions. The legal profession is a great example. If the cycle of unequal distribution of opportunity is to be broken, and the most talented people from all backgrounds are to be given a fair chance, the sector needs to act. And through the Prime programme this is what it is doing."

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of The Sutton Trust, added: "We know that non-privileged young people have great difficulty in getting work placements that give them that vital first experience of the professions. I'm pleased to see that PRIME identifies and supports these young people, including those on free school meals and who have no family history of going to university."

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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