The ExploreLaw programme
As part of our commitment to promoting social mobility, both within the firm and within the wider legal profession, Baker McKenzie runs a week-long work experience programme for year 12 students from less privileged backgrounds. Participants are sourced through our connections with the Social Mobility Foundation, BLD and St Charles Sixth Form College, Ladbroke Grove. All the students are keen to find out more about careers in law, and have good predicted A-level grades. As well as arranging business games and training sessions on networking, presentation skills, job applications and interviews, we assign each student to a legal department, supervised by a mentor (partner, associate or trainee solicitor). They spend half of their week getting to know more about the team’s work and, where possible, getting involved in live client matters.
Partnership with Google
The legal team at Google, one of our key clients, was keen to be involved in the PRIME programme from the outset, and colleagues there have been active participants ever since. As part of the work experience week, students spend a morning at Google’s offices, finding out what it’s like to work as an in-house lawyer, through speed networking, presentations and quizzes. They are excited by the opportunity to get an insight into a different company, and Google’s colourful office and fantastic canteen are definite highlights of the day. Many of them return to Baker McKenzie keen to pursue a career as an in-house lawyer!
A key feature of the ExploreLaw programme is a team challenge. In 2013 our students were given the task of coming up with an alternative use for Battersea Power Station. The challenge required them to work as a team, led by a trainee solicitor, using their creative powers and research skills to come up with ideas and test their workability with lawyers. As part of their visit to Google, the students presented their ideas and findings to a judging panel from the legal team, who gave them valuable feedback on the content and style of their presentations and awarded a prize to the winning team.
Our partnership with Google has proved extremely effective, both in enhancing our working relationship and in building both skills and awareness of social mobility issues in participants at both firms. As one of the students put it: “You have given our whole group, an amazing and special chance – you have really opened my eyes to a whole world of opportunity. We have learned very useful skills that will be with us all our lives”.
A long-term approach
Conscious that the ExploreLaw Week represents only a small step in our students’ career path, we undertake to keep in touch with them and offer support and advice where we can. We invite our friends at Google to an annual follow-up event for all participants, giving everyone the chance to catch up, ask questions and learn more new skills.