A work experience commitment developed in a partnership between the Sutton Trust and leading law firms is boosting the self-confidence of hundreds of low and middle income students and giving them the skills to pursue legal and other careers.
PRIME is a commitment by over 80 law firms to ensure fair and equal access to quality work experience in the legal profession, and a new evaluation published today by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) shows that 90% of students from low and middle income backgrounds said PRIME boosted their self-confidence.
Sir Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation said: “Well-structured work experience is crucial for young people, but too often depends on knowing the right people and having professional connections. PRIME is leading the way in ensuring work placements in the legal sector are high quality and fairly recruited.
“It is making a huge difference to those from low and middle income families, who do not have professional contacts, by giving them crucial experience of work in law firms. The first year report is very encouraging, and shows just how valuable the placements have been to hundreds of young people, with many more set to benefit in this coming year.”
David Morley, Allen & Overy senior partner and chair of PRIME, said: “The hard work and commitment of signatories has meant that we have made tremendous progress since PRIME launched last year. We’re pleased that the NFER report reflects this but we still have work to do. Over 80 law firms are signed up across the UK but we’d like more to join us so we can continue to improve access to work experience for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.”
After what the NFER described as a “very promising” first year in which 751 work experience places were offered between January and August 2012 in 20 different law firms to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. PRIME, supported by the Sutton Trust, is being encouraged to increase the number of its placements which have helped students gain valuable insight into the legal profession. The target for the profession is to provide 2,500 places by 2015.
86% of participants accessed their first work experience in the legal profession through PRIME. They benefited from placements amounting to at least 30-35 hours and structured to develop students’ confidence, competencies and motivation, with training in key skills needed for a career in a law firm and in other professions.
As well as receiving information about the profession, students were rehearsed in giving presentations, writing reports and applications, networking and being interviewed. Most students did not think their experience could be improved and 96% said that they would recommend it to others.
NFER Research Manager Kelly Kettlewell commented: “NFER is delighted to have had the opportunity to evaluate this important initiative, which has been so well received by the young people involved. We are looking forward to continuing to monitor PRIME as it develops in future.”