The City’s elite take spots on inaugural Prime board

Prime, the first profession-wide scheme aimed at offering quality work experience opportunities to disadvantaged students, has appointed lawyers from some of the City’s top firms to its inaugural board.

David Morley

David Morley

The board will be chaired by Allen & Overy’s (A&O) senior partner David Morley, who got the ball rolling on Prime when he invited senior lawyers from various top firms to discuss social mobility at the firm’s City headquarters in March 2011.

The rest of the board comprises: Addleshaw Goddard senior partner Monica Burch, CMS Cameron McKenna senior partner Dick Tyler, DLA Piper board chair Janet Legrand, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate finance head Barry O’Brian and the Sutton Trust’s director of programmes and partnerships James Turner.

According to an A&O spokesman, members were nominated based on their expertise and to reflect the UK-wide nature of Prime.

News of the appointments come as Prime prepares for its first annual review, which will be carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research later in the year and will assess individual firms’ work experience programmes and whether Prime is achieving its stated goals. The review is paid for by Prime’s member firms.

Prime first kicked off in September 2011 (12 September 2011) and now has more than 80 members, according to Jane Masey, who is diversity manager at A&O and project leader for Prime. Masey added that Prime is still focused on getting more firms to sign up.

Firms that sign up to Prime agree to run their own work experience programmes according to the initiative’s eight guiding promises. Promises include providing financial assistance to students from less privileged backgrounds to attend work experience and providing work experience places equivalent to not less than 50 per cent of the number of training contact places offered each year.

Slaughter and May, for instance, launched its Key Project in March, offering students at Islington’s Central Foundation Boys’ School weekly tutorials, after-school workshops and career insight events.

Other firms have tweaked their existing work experience programmes to fit with Prime’s goals. A&O, for instance, has brought its Smart Start Experience programme, which offers 16- and 17-year-old students week-long work experience, in line with Prime’s promises.