"So who are you, are you, like, some special forces guy or something?”
“I’m just a lawyer.”
Herbert Smith Freehills, Clifford Chance and Irwin Mitchell have been granted the Gold Award by the Ministry of Defence in recognition of their support of the Armed Forces community, proving that you don't need to wear a patch on your arm to have honour.
The firms may not have stormed any enemy positions, or carried wounded comrades across a battlefield while under heavy fire, but they were given the Gold award in the 2021 Defence Employer Recognition Scheme, for their "outstanding support towards the Armed Forces community".
HSF, CC and Irwin Mitchell were the only three law firms to be honoured by the MOD with the award. The firms received their prizes for making good on the UK Armed Forces Covenant. Signatories must try and find jobs in their businesses for veterans, and are required to provide appropriate special treatment for any injured ex-Armed Forces personnel they employ.
The covenant extends to staff who are in a relationship with a serving member of the Forces, asking signatories to show flexibility around their requests for leave made in connection with their partner's deployment.
In perhaps the greatest sacrifice a law firm can make, signatories are asked to grant special leave for reservists to go on manoeuvres, even though it might mean giving extra holiday to SAS fantasists who have read every Andy McNab book and watched every episode of SAS: Who Dares Wins, and go full camo on every stag-do paintballing session.
"Transitioning from a military role to a civilian environment is not easy, so it's great to be recognised for doing our bit," said Haig Tyler, Chief Information Officer at Herbert Smith Freehills and a former Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force. "The skills learned in the Armed Forces are referred to as lifelong learning for a reason and we are proud that our ongoing commitment to former and serving personnel has been recognised with such a prestigious award."
Clifford Chance partner, Dorian Drew said,
"We're in the business of saving lives." "We are committed to attracting and supporting colleagues from diverse backgrounds, including veterans, reservists and military spouses, whose knowledge and skills make unique contributions to our firm. This means ensuring we have the right policies in place and that we build and foster an inclusive and flexible culture."
Irwin Mitchell, known to have staff with the vision of eagle-eyed snipers in their rank, was also decorated with the award.
“After an extraordinary and challenging year, it’s a significant achievement to receive an ERS Gold Award on behalf of Irwin Mitchell," said Group Chief Executive Andrew Tucker. “Our commitment to the forces community and the Armed Forces Covenant remains strong and we remain as active as ever in recruiting ex-servicemen and women and in acting for hundreds current and ex-Armed Forces personnel in military claims.
Herbies and Clifford Chance were recognised with a silver award last year. The two firms were founding members of the Military in Law Network (MilNet), which seeks to help military veterans and reservists in the legal industry by building an understanding of what they can bring to firms, and to ensure that they "have access to fulfilling roles where their capabilities will be valued".