Top City law firms criticised for failing to stay in touch with social mobility work experience students

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By Thomas Connelly on

Two-thirds of PRIME students had no further contact with their allocated firm


A host of top City firms have been accused of not making enough effort to keep in touch with social mobility students after they have completed work experience.

Of the 213 students who responded to a National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) study, a whopping 67% said they had no further contact with the firm after they left.

The students questioned were all part of the social mobility network PRIME. Launched in 2011, with 21 corporate law firms signing up, the network aims to create fairer access to quality work experience among school kids.

With now almost 90 affiliated firms — including all of the magic circle — the organisation has become an invaluable tool for underprivileged students to gain access to the City’s elite outfits.

Despite 94% of respondents praising the PRIME scheme, the report criticised City lawyers for not maintaining ties with the students once their allocated time at the firm is up.

With over two-thirds of students having no further interaction with their allocated firm, just 20% of those questioned could confirm that they had further “informal contact” — either via an email or phone call.

Percentage of survey respondents who had further contact with the law firm


NFER conducted 15 further in-depth interviews with students who had spent time with law firms as part of PRIME. Of those questioned, one-third (five) said they would have liked further contact but didn’t receive any.

One anonymous 19 year-old university student studying politics, economics and public policy told researchers:

In my week there I didn’t really get many [phone] numbers, so the only number I would be able to contact is the company and not actually a direct person.

Asked whether she would have liked contact with the firm, she continued:

Yes I would have. It was not a problem, though… I wouldn’t know who to contact.

Those that had stayed in contact and received assistance were very much in the minority.

The stats revealed that only 8% of students had received mentoring from someone at the law firm they worked at. In addition to this, just 7% confirmed that they had done further work experience at the same firm, while 5% had attended a reunion event.

With “some” students admitting that they did not want or need further contact from the firm, the report concludes by suggesting that law firms must “improve” their efforts to stay in touch with PRIME participants.