Burges Salmon, one of the leading UK law firms, opens access to the profession as part of its social mobility agenda with two one-week work experience programmes entitled Bright Sparks.
Burges Salmon has run work experience programmes for students aged 15 to 16 for a number of years and the new Bright Sparks programme forms part of the firm’s PRIME commitment to offer fair and equal access to work experience. PRIME, which is the work experience commitment from the legal profession, was established through the collective view that an industry standard was required to ensure fair access to quality work experience for school-age students across the UK. Through PRIME, Burges Salmon is committed to providing work experience placements for students who are the first generation in their family that would attend university and/or receiving free school meals to enable them to learn how the legal profession works.
The firm takes on a total of 24 students per year of which 12 meet the PRIME criteria. This year the first week of Bright Sparks ran from Monday 1 July to Friday 5 July, with the second week taking place from Monday 15 July to Friday 19 July.
Bright Sparks is delivered to students by various members of the Burges Salmon HR team. The Year 10 – Year 13 students came from a variety of schools and spent their respective weeks working on a group project, presentations, participating in workshops and generally learning about the day-to-day office life of a busy law firm. Students were able to observe the role of lawyers and also gain insight into other business functions such as finance, IT, human resources, marketing and business development, highlighting the many different career paths that are available. The week then culminated with the students presenting their group project in two teams in front of a panel and an audience comprising parents, school work experience coordinators and head teachers.
Year 12 student Sadeta said: “Bright Sparks had excellent activities and I’ve improved many skills such as public speaking. I would like to say a huge thank you for an amazing experience.”;
Nikhil, a Year 10 student, said: “We were actually able to do tasks rather than just sit around. I found the CV and interview workshops the most valuable as it’s something we can use in the future.”
Burges Salmon’s corporate responsibility manager, Catherine Correia, said: “We are delighted to have launched Bright Sparks this year. Our aim was to put together a full and engaging week to ensure that each student gained maximum understanding and learning from the work experience programme. This was a real cross-firm effort with the HR team leading all workshops and other departments helping with shadowing sessions. All of the activities that took place were linked to specific learning aims and we hope that the students were really able to get a good feel of how a busy law firm operates and have fun too.”;
Ayaan, from Year 12 said: “I’m definitely now going to study law at University with a hope to then working at a law firm like Burges Salmon.”;
One of the parents said: “Many thanks for telling me about your work experience programme. Our daughter has been at your place all week and I’m pleased to say is loving it. Your HR team has done a great job. I may well be stealing some of their ideas for our work experience scheme here!”
Burges Salmon Senior Partner, Alan Barr, said: “When I first started off in the law, there was little if anything available in terms of work experience. These sorts of experiences are invaluable for the students who took part in our Bright Sparks programme. I hope they will be able to take what they’ve learnt with them through the rest of school, to university and into the workplace. The legal sector can sometimes be thought of as inaccessible. This is not a positive view for the industry and, through our PRIME commitments, we are working hard to ensure that we open up the law to as wide a group of young people as possible.
“These students have done fantastically well during the week and should be very proud of both what they’ve achieved and the excellent group presentations that they delivered to our panel.”;
After the success of Bright Sparks, Burges Salmon will continue to provide this work experience programme along with its other programmes aimed at university students.