As one of the founding members of PRIME, we recognise that there are barriers preventing students from lower-income backgrounds pursuing a career in law.
When we launched our PRIME work experience programmes our objective was simple – to provide young people, not just those with privileged backgrounds, with access to quality work experience. We launched our first work experience programme in September 2011 and committed to 28 places per year. We developed long term and meaningful links directly with schools such as Mossbourne Community Academy, City & Islington College and more recently Bacon’s College. We annually present to students in Year 12 and actively encourage applications from both A* students and those with the potential to be, given the right support. The programme provides students with access to a mentor and includes five pre-arranged meetings for the mentor and mentee. Students participate in a mix of skills development workshops, case studies, networking activities with a variety of teams, and work experience.
The programme begins with a work experience bootcamp in which students are given all the tools they need to make the most out of their work experience. The programme also covers team working, networking and confidence. In 2014 we introduced a further session on resilience designed to reflect on the student’s character strengths, how to face setbacks and develop realistic action plans. Students also have one to one CV surgery sessions. The last day of the programme focusses on planning and next steps and students are encouraged to write a summer development plan with some short term objectives to complete over the summer. The programme evolves year on year based on the feedback received from the schools, students, mentors and work experience hosts. In 2014 we introduced a new element to the programme to help students gain a better understanding of how law firms work with their clients in partnership with BNY Mellon. BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle.
The collaboration is based on our shared objective of inspiring young people and providing opportunities to those most in need.
Members from BNY Mellon’s EMEA Legal Diversity & Inclusion Council act as mentors to some of the students and several representatives from BNY Mellon also participate in a competition where they ask students to use their creativity and team working skills to translate a legal transaction back in non-legal terms to a “Dragon’s Den” of senior representatives from the EMEA Legal Department at their offices.
The day included Deputy General Counsel and EMEA Head of Legal at BNY Mellon, Susan Revell, giving a talk to the students about how legal departments work with law firms and the role of an in-house lawyer. Students also had the opportunity to network after the event and implement the techniques they had learned in a networking workshop earlier that day. It is important to us to build long term relationships with the students and to nurture a sustainable pipeline of candidates for our internship and trainee programmes. To facilitate this we launched an Alumni programme. The students receive relevant news updates and in turn keep us updated on what they are up to. During their first year at university they are invited to an Alumni event where we work more intensively with them on making applications, securing places at open days and mock interviews.
We also provide access to other resources and networks on campus through our relationship with careers services. When visiting universities attended by our alumni, our graduate recruitment team ensure that they connect with them. To date over 100 students are actively engaged in the alumni programme. Stephen Parish, Chairman of Norton Rose Fulbright, Europe, Middle East and Asia commented: “It is important that the legal industry is open to people of all backgrounds. We are proud to be a founding member and active supporter of this initiative, which is a valuable catalyst for increasing the diversity of work experience opportunities that we have already on offer. By acting together the sector can make a real difference in this area, and we are committed to making this a success.”
Susan Revell, Deputy General Counsel and EMEA Head of Legal at BNY Mellon commented:
“Without Diversity and Inclusion being a key objective for an organisation, it cannot cultivate diverse talent nor can it foster an inclusive culture across all businesses, functions, levels and geographies. Through PRIME we take steps to encourage, cultivate and prepare nascent talent for a career within the legal community. It has been a privilege for the EMEA Legal division of BNY Mellon to be Norton Rose Fulbright’s PRIME partner for 2014 and we look forward to more opportunities where we can together focus the legal community on fostering greater progress in the area of diversity and inclusion”