Social mobility is an important value for law firms. Bird & Bird have initiatives in place to help underrepresented students start their law careers. They discussed their opportunities here...
At Bird & Bird, we have two social mobility schemes which are designed to support underrepresented students at critical points of their education, as well as increase access to the legal profession.
The Pioneer and Bursary schemes form a key part of our corporate responsibility (CR) strategy, which underpins our genuine commitment to being a responsible employer. Part of our strategy is to increase our links with local communities to ensure we do not operate in isolation from our surroundings. We also work with our clients and their industries to maximise the impact of our CR programme.
Launched in 2012, our Pioneer Programme is a social mobility and talent development initiative which establishes long-term relationships with students from the age of 14. We work with two schools in the London area and offer places to students who would not otherwise have access to such an opportunity. The programme develops students' employability skills through them attending three workshops per year, and gives them the confidence and knowledge to make more informed career decisions. They also attend one week's paid work experience in Year 12 and are paired with a trainee buddy throughout their time on the programme.
Through Pioneer, we aim to raise the profile of Bird & Bird as a committed supporter of diversity within the legal profession. Pioneer also creates a future talent pipeline for both legal and non-legal positions within the firm.
The Pioneer programme complements our Bursary scheme which was launched in 2009: any Pioneer student who decides to pursue a career in law can apply to receive financial assistance from the firm whilst at university. As well as financial support, each student is paired with a trainee mentor and is given a place on our summer vacation scheme.
Our Bursary scheme seeks to address the financial hurdle that often deters bright people from socially deprived areas from attending University. We perceive the effect of this hurdle to be a contributing factor in the underrepresentation of people from disadvantaged backgrounds within the legal profession. The objective of our scheme is to provide a counterbalance and to encourage young people from these backgrounds to enter the legal profession.
Our Bursary scheme has seen great results and following a successful placement on our summer vacation scheme, we have been able to offer six students a Training Contract.
Hear from one of our Pioneer students below, who has now gone on to study English at University.
The first ever workshop I had within the Pioneer Programme was a networking event in the city. Already it was a new experience in being able to witness a different part of London, but it also helped remove the barrier and misconceptions about lawyers being robots, when in reality they were bubbly, lovely people who were willing to help in any way possible. Seeing such ambitious people helped me envision myself in such a position in the future.
The work experience at Bird & Bird gave us the most insight into the world of law and was the pivotal moment in setting the course for the rest of my life. My love for English was enhanced by being able to review contracts and from seeing the works of a trainee. I also realised that lawyers are just like everyone else and after speaking to a Partner in the lift, I knew I wanted to be a solicitor one day in such a diverse and socially moving firm like Bird & Bird.
Overall, I can confidently say that being on Bird & Bird's Pioneer Programme is one of my proudest achievements to date and utilising the many avenues that have become available to me through the programme has given me the stepping stone to a successful future which I'm so grateful for.
You can find more about the opportunities on offer at Bird & Bird here.