Elizabeth Robertson, PRIME’s new Executive Chair, wrote to members today as she looks ahead to the next three years.
“I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as PRIME’s new Executive Chair, having taken on the role from Nicholas Cheffings. Nicholas, and David Morley before him, have done a tremendous job chairing PRIME since its inception over ten years ago, growing membership and initiating key projects such as Legal Insight Sessions in cold spot areas and a PRIME Virtual Legal Work Experience Programme. I am delighted to be able to continue this work, encouraging more firms to join us, particularly those from outside of London. By doing so we will be better placed to help students in those most acutely marginalised regions. With PRIME’s spirit of collaboration, there is much that established and new members can learn from each other.
I have always been incredibly open in sharing my own experiences. It is only when we do so that students from less privileged backgrounds can see that there are people like them in the legal industry and firms can truly become more diverse. I am the daughter of a teacher who did not go to University. My grandparents ran a sweet shop and tobacconist in Northampton and didn’t think that teaching was a proper job. My mother left school at 14 and became a hairdresser. I remember being aware of the judgements people made about my parents, and I also observed the various ways that they both tried to disguise what they thought of as their failings. They were both talented people but never met anything like their full potential, or necessarily understood how best to guide their children. All these influences have made me sure that more must be done to ensure equal opportunities, regardless of educational background or parental aspiration and guidance (or lack of it).
When I joined the PRIME Board in 2019, I was delighted to be able to support and expedite change in our profession in a more formal way than the individual efforts that I had been engaged in previously. I knew that joining PRIME would allow me to be part of, and contribute to, something much bigger. This remains my primary motivation in taking on the role of Executive Chair.
As the PRIME Board and I look ahead to the next three years, we wish to establish clear areas of priority for PRIME. These priorities need to sit in an ever-evolving landscape of social mobility, where there has been a shift in focus, for some, from access to progression. In response, I would like to see us expanding our area of advice and expertise to retention and promotion. I also believe that PRIME should be
advocating and inspiring our member firms to do better, whilst sharing and celebrating successes. We have strengths, and a key role to play, in providing informed guidance, best practice communication and transparent bench marking.
To help guide our future, I am keen to hear from you. What do you see as the priorities for PRIME? How can PRIME further support your firm in your social mobility journey? This is a dialogue I wish to keep open. Please do get in touch with me via PRIME’s Engagement Consultant, Su Brailey, at firstname.lastname@example.org. As an alliance of law firms, our key strength is in our numbers and collaboration. Together we can continue, and will continue, to widen access to, and diversity within, the legal profession.“