Collaborating to widen access to opportunities for young people
Social background remains a key factor in the UK in how young people access opportunities in wider society. For instance, young people from a lower socio-economic background are too often not able to access the same opportunities as those from a higher socio-economic background. Businesses have the ability to widen that access and work to remove barriers and level the playing field.
At Charles Russell Speechlys, our Career Start programme is one of the ways we work to increase access to opportunity and social mobility within the legal profession. Since the programme’s launch five years ago we have supported over 100 students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who are interested in a career in the legal profession. We aim to help them understand more about the range of careers in the sector, to build their employability skills, and support them in making decisions about future education and career choices.
In the first year of the programme with us students complete a mentoring module and work experience, developing a range of skills such as communication, teamwork and presentation. Over the following four years the programme provides tailored development opportunities, workshops and skills-based sessions.
During our work experience week in summer 2023 the students were delighted to collaborate with our internal Real Estates Disputes Team and one of our key clients, the Church Commissioners for England. Students completed a case study across the week based on a real-life scenario, which included a site visit to the Hyde Park Estate and a presentation on their findings. The feedback on their presentations was highly positive and the students found it to be an extremely beneficial experience, helping them to understand how our lawyers work with clients and the different ways in which they advise and support them.
"Partnering on the programme has allowed us to engage with the team at the Church Commissioners in a different way and to add another dimension to our relationship with them. It has also demonstrated that we take our responsibility in having a positive impact on society seriously and that our values are aligned with theirs." Emma Humphreys, Partner, Real Estate Disputes.
“Collaborating with Charles Russell Speechlys on their Career Start programme, was a rewarding and enjoyable experience. It was evident that the students had put a lot of time and effort into the task we set, and we were impressed with the innovative ideas they presented. Working together was a great opportunity to have a positive impact at this crucial stage of the young person’s life as they make future education and career choices. We are sure they all have bright futures ahead of them." Laura Whyte, Church Commissioners for England.
The Career Start programme is open for applications each year in the Autumn and you can find out more here.