City firms unite with in-house teams to launch social mobility placements

Media and technology companies such as Yahoo and ITV have partnered with City firms to create legal work placements for students from underprivileged backgrounds.

The placements are subject to Prime guidelines, an existing commitment by many firms and in-house legal departments to offer social mobility work experience.

The programme will run over a fortnight this summer and will provide 20 sixth form students from four London schools to spend time in City law firms and media and tech legal departments. They will benefit from workshops on networking, self-awareness and resilience and be taught how law regulates the media and technology worlds.

The scheme was born from a programme by Slaughter and May and its client ITV, which ran last year. The other partnerships are between the London office of US-headquartered Arnold & Porter and Viacom (comprising Comedy Central, MTV and Paramount among others), Bird & Bird and Yahoo and Olswang and Microsoft.

Students from Central Foundation Boys’ School will work with ITV and Slaughter and May, Central Foundation Girls’ School pupils will attend Bird & Bird and Yahoo and Haverstock School students will go to Olswang and Microsoft. Westminster Kingsway College pupils will head to Arnold & Porter and Viacom.

ITV director of legal affairs Barry Matthews said: “Our aim in setting up the Legal Social Mobility Partnership is to break down barriers both social and psychological. 

“The scheme seeks to help students who do not have existing touch points with the legal world feel that they could have a place in a City law firm or a blue chip in-house legal team.  This will hopefully go some way to tackling the all too common problem of such young people counting themselves out of a career in law before even trying.”

He added that the scheme had been designed in the hope of encouraging other in-house teams to replicate it with their panel firms.

Haverstock School headmaster John Dowd said: “This partnership is a brilliant opportunity for our students. They get to meet people, see places and experience organisational cultures that will fundamentally change the way they perceive their options after school.

“Suddenly their view of the future is a different one. The limits have been lifted and they are not just inspired but empowered to reach new ambitions.”