Prime for action

Social mobility scheme Prime is on track to help some 700 school pupils get work placements across the country this year. By Laura Manning

More than 70 per cent of Prime’s founding 23 firms have confirmed pilot work experience schemes for 2012, offering placements to almost 500 school pupils.

It is understood that in total more than 700 students, aged between 14 and 18, are to take part in work ­placements at a number of the 76 committed firms this year. The nationwide social mobility initiative requires firms to achieve a quota of the equivalent of 50 per cent of their training contract offers by June next year.

CMS Cameron McKenna corporate social responsibility (CSR) manager Rob Powell said: “It’s just great to have an industry-wide programme. We already have a good CSR programme, but Prime places a bit of structure around our schemes and builds on other programmes.

“I think most law firms in the UK will sign up. It already seems as though everyone is clubbing together and forming a bit of a ’coalition’, if you like.”
New deals

A number of firms are relying on existing resources and connections to fulfil their commitments, such as widening participation initiative Pathways to Law, while other founding members have looked to introduce brand new schemes.

Camerons has constructed a new programme, taking on 12 students in London and two in each of its other UK offices in April. There will be a second placement in July.

Linklaters created a scheme for 60 students. The first 30 were from year 10 and took part in individual work shadowing. The second group of 30 went to the firm for four days during the Easter week.

Ashurst has built a programme called ’Access Ashurst’. The initiative will see 18 students from three schools take part in week-long placements, working with a supervisor across various departments in the firm.

Elsewhere, Eversheds has expanded its Unlocked programme to create an academy that will fulfil the quota and terms of the Prime commitment.
Norton Rose ran a successful pilot project last year, and is now expanding this to a five-day programme – spread over a six-month period – involving a combination of skills, talks and work placements.

Dickinson Dees and Dundas & Wilson have both created schemes from scratch. Dickinson Dees will be working with four students from a local school over a six-month period, providing them with a range of skills exercises, presentations, mentoring and a case study.

Meanwhile, Dundas & Wilson is sponsoring two schools in Edinburgh, with 12 students set to take part in work shadowing, skills talks, research, court visits and presentations.

Click on the image below to view Participating Law Firms/Organisations.