Legal and Social Mobility Programme breaks new ground in third year

A number of leading commercial brands and their legal advisers today announce the launch of the third year of The Legal Social Mobility Partnership (LSMP); this time with a far wider remit. Taking place between 18-29 July, The LSMP is a collaboration of law firms, their partner clients, commercial organisations and professional sports clubs in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds, who work together to break down barriers, build skills and provide experiences which help bright sixth form students from non-privileged backgrounds to pursue a career in the legal profession.

The scheme’s scope has more than doubled in size from last year. Over 200 students will be involved and in excess of 40 organisations will take part across the country in Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and London.

The ultimate aim is to broaden access to the legal profession and develop students’ career aspirations by giving them opportunities across a wide variety of industries to help break down social and psychological barriers that often prevent students from considering a legal career.

Barry Matthews, Director of Legal Affairs & Third Party Sales, ITV said:

"All of us involved in the scheme feel strongly that entry to the legal profession should be meritocratic and without social barriers. Now in its third year, The LSMP encourages students to build their confidence, both through demystifying the world of business and by giving them a wealth of ammunition to populate their CVs and tackle interviews with self-assurance."

The LSMP offers a week’s intensive skills training coupled with work insights with four different in-house teams. A final day is spent with Harlequins, Wasps, Leeds Rhinos or Manchester City FC & Wigan Warriors to learn the key to resilience and achieving goals from their performance coaches. The programme is linked to a week in private practice which adheres to the PRIME criteria from which students feed in to the LSMP week. The two-week experience is then underpinned by a LSMP Alumni offering which provides students with access to virtual coaching through a LinkedIn Group and hands-on support at university through a unique tie up with Aspiring Solicitors.

Participants from last year’s scheme shared their own views. Angelica, a student from Kingsway College said:

"I used the experience in my personal statement and it has helped me get all my offers at University. The course has made me believe in myself and I feel so much more ambitious and confident."

Ayo from Harris Academy, Crystal Palace said:

"I enjoyed going to different businesses and learning about how the law is applied differently in each one. My highlight was going to Freemantle Media as I learnt some great interview techniques and also skills such as team-work and listening; my self-confidence improved greatly."

The original idea for The LSMP stemmed from a successful joint work experience initiative run by ITV and Slaughter and May in 2013 and ITV’s realisation that multiple in-house teams were also engaged with their panel firms on work experience that met the PRIME criteria. Building on this successful pilot, a model for structured work experience placements for secondary school pupils involving a week at a law firm and second week at in-house legal teams developed. Law firms Olswang, Arnold & Porter and Bird & Bird and client organisations Yahoo!, Microsoft and Viacom, signed up to the model. Harlequins RFC then agreed to come on board to provide a day of resilience training to students, and with that LSMP was born.

Patricia Christias, Head of Legal UK at Microsoft said:

"The LSMP has been designed to be an easily implementable model, which we hope will encourage others to replicate it. The fact that The LSMP has increased the number of students involved tenfold since its inception demonstrates just how achievable this is."

Any firm or business wishing to participate in LSMP may gain access to a comprehensive LSMP ‘Format Bible’ which is a toolkit with a step-by-step guide to enable organisations to create an LSMP programme in their location, with the aim of continuing to establish LSMP as a national programme.

As well as the expansion of The LSMP, new initiatives have been put into place for the third year. There is a dedicated LSMP LinkedIn Group for Alumni with regular updates on opportunities, events and information plus access to support with CVs, interviews, and job and university applications. The LSMP has developed a unique partnership with the organisation, Aspiring Solicitors, to give face-to-face support to LSMP alumni who go on to study law at university. Alumni networking events have also been established, including a research skills workshop delivered by specialist legal information provider, LexisNexis.
The LSMP is committed to measuring its impact and supporting students long-term through its alumni program. In 2015, 89% of the students said they had a positive opinion of the legal profession after taking part in LSMP and 83% of students said that the programme had increased or significantly increased their confidence. The LSMP aim is to continue to track its impact as its alumni progress into university and the working world.