Norton Rose trainee heads Northern diversity scheme

A Norton Rose Fulbright trainee has set up and is heading a social mobility initiative drawn from his own experiences growing up in Northumberland.

London-based trainee Adam Smith, originally from Ashington, near Newcastle, is leading Impress, an initiative which targets young people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in the North of England.

Smith studied for an LLM at the University of Durham before joining Norton Rose Fulbright and has collaborated with his former place of study for the programme.

The scheme is a year long and involves thirty 12 to 14-year-old students of Ashington schools. During it, students learn about legal careers, life as a lawyer and what it is like to study at a high-ranked university. The University of Durham also awards places on a residential scheme to 12 of the 30 children. The programme’s top performers win a day at the Norton Rose Fulbright’s London office.

After conceiving the idea, Smith presented it to the firm’s diversity and inclusion committee.

He said: “I was expecting more resistance [from the committee] than I actually encountered. The committee was unanimous in its support: it was considered a very intelligent scheme and that it was something we should do, not because it was good for PR, but because it was genuinely worthwhile and would help a community under-served by corporate responsibility initiatives.”

Smith added that his motivation for setting up Impress stemmed from his own background.

He said: “I know the issues that schoolchildren in these areas experience. I know how easy it is to be insulated from the rest of the country, to think you’re doing well because you’re beating your classmates but being oblivious to the fact that there are thousands of people at better schools who have advantages over you.”