1 May will see Hogan Lovells' Chair Nicholas Cheffings take the reins from outgoing PRIME Chairman David Morley. The change comes at a time when there is increased focus on social mobility as Government and business alike are held to account; and the need for wider and better access continues to dominate many agendas in the City.
PRIME was established in September 2011 to provide fair access to work experience in the legal sector for school-age students from less privileged backgrounds, with the ultimate aim of widening the pipeline and creating a more diverse law firm workforce. 22 founding law firms pledged to provide work experience places that meet a series of minimum standards, including:
• a number of places that is not less than 50% of the number of training contracts offered each year;
• a minimum of 30-35 hours of work experience per student;
• training on key business and personal skills in areas such as oral and written presentation, networking and negotiation;
• maintaining contact with students after work experience has ended;
• financial assistance during the programme;
• an insight into the range of careers available in the legal profession (for lawyers and non-lawyers) and the potential routes into those careers.
Building on those foundations, PRIME members have since provided high quality work experience to more than 4,000 young people, significantly exceeding the original target set of 2,500 by 2015. Membership has quadrupled, now numbering 89 firms and in-house colleagues.
Commenting on his new role Nicholas Cheffings said:
"David has left a lasting legacy, initiating collaboration across the legal profession that has inspired real change in the legal sector’s approach to opening up access to our world. A recent independent evaluation of PRIME by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) concluded that members have been successful in helping young people to learn more about the legal profession, but that we could do more to stay in touch with participants following their work experience. This will be a key area of focus for me, as we look to build upon, strengthen and improve what we have started, working with other stakeholders to ensure that more young people with talent but without connections get the opportunity to succeed in our profession. Opening doors for them is the core objective for me and for my fellow Board members."
David Morley said:
"I am incredibly proud of what PRIME has achieved since its inception, however, it’s clear that there is still work to be done and I know Nicholas will drive the initiative forward. My hope is that through programmes like PRIME the legal profession will become more representative of the society it serves and young people from all backgrounds will be inspired to join it."