Passionate about social mobility, Barry Matthews, Director of Legal Affairs at ITV, was keen to build on the good work started by PRIME and in 2013, joined forces with Slaughter and May on a joint work experience programme for students interested in a legal career. The collaboration provided students with a unique insight into working in an in-house legal team, an area of the profession often unfamiliar to young people.
To ensure the scheme benefitted students who needed it most, it was agreed to involve students from Slaughter and May’s partner school, Central Foundation Boys’ School. An inner-city school a short walk from the firm’s office, its 900 students speak 34 different first languages and over 70% have claimed free school meals during their time at school.
To give students a realistic experience, placements were competitive and students were required to submit a CV and attend a formal interview. Students were supported through the process and received tailored CV and interview workshops to help them with their applications.
Students spent a week at Slaughter and May working on a mock task – they were told ITV wished to launch a prime-time game show and needed advice on several legal aspects. Students conducted legal research, scheduled a meeting and visited ITV to present their advice. The following week, students spent two days at ITV to see the client’s side: they met different departments, were given a self-awareness workshop and received feedback on their performance in the client meeting. They also saw a live TV recording.
Students reported an increase in confidence, particularly relating to written and spoken communication and listening skills. They also felt more confident preparing a CV. All those who were asked agreed it had helped them decide their future career path. By undertaking genuine work tasks, students were given a valuable challenge:
“The tasks I undertook were somewhat challenging but all were doable. I found they pushed me and utilised my skills.” Deniz, Year 12 student at Central Foundation.
On the firm’s side, volunteers who worked with and got to know the students said they gained a greater understanding of the social issues faced by students from less privileged backgrounds.
“Having come from a state school background, I understand the difficulties young people face if they don’t have someone who can help them understand what professional careers are available and connect them to opportunities. At ITV we are committed to doing what we can to enhance opportunities for bright students from backgrounds that are not the traditional seed bed for City and FTSE 100 lawyers.” Barry Matthews, Director of Legal Affairs, ITV
“Collaborations such as this can only strengthen a work experience programme. We see the students gain so much from being exposed to the roles available across the legal profession, not just those in private practice, and getting the chance to test if being a lawyer is for them.” Kate Hursthouse, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Slaughter and May