As a former Alumna of the PRIME programme, I took away one key message from the PRIME Conference of 2018 – a message of hope. Throughout the presentations, panels, and discussions there was a unified belief that if PRIME would be used to its full potential, then it could create real change to shake up the legal profession through diversity and social mobility. This message was backed by the evidence brought forward which showed that supporting social mobility is not only a sound business decision but also one that could change some of the deep rooted societal issues that were discussed during the day.
I greatly admire that alongside the delivery of a positive message, the Conference wasn’t reluctant to address the areas in which the legal profession, and society in general, are falling short. It was not afraid to suggest that more needs to be done to provide young people from different backgrounds with opportunities that would see their talent flourish. However, it was clear that the dedicated members of PRIME want nothing more than to tackle some of those issues head on and to be the real drivers of change.
A key notion that resonated with me was that the purpose of PRIME is ultimately to allow for an environment where PRIME itself is no longer needed. The goal is to work towards a time where people from all socio-economic backgrounds feel as though they are in a position to strive for a career in the legal profession. Additionally, there is an objective to allow for the boundaries and prejudices that may be woven into the system to be lifted and removed. At first, one might think it is bizarre that so much work is being put into a scheme that essentially wants to render itself useless. However, schemes like PRIME should be seen to be at the forefront of change. If tomorrow has to be different, then something must happen today.
The rich discussions that arose from the round-tabling highlighted the level of engagement from every member of PRIME by trying to ensure the scheme can be delivered in a way that will create the greatest benefit to young people across Britain. I can only hope that such dedication from the member firms of PRIME will be seen to have a ripple effect throughout the legal profession to those who haven’t yet joined the scheme, or further to those who don’t see the full benefit of social mobility among their workforce. I would also hope that the long-term effects of schemes like PRIME could be seen more widely across different industries, bringing about real change. The PRIME Conference of 2018 allowed for a reflection of the real successes that have arisen from the dedication of everyone involved and incited true hope for even more to come.
Ellen Smith, PRIME alumna, Brodies LLP