City law diversity scheme brings teachers on board in bid to get closer to students

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By Alex Aldridge on

Work experience initiative PRIME — which is backed by 80 top firms — wants more ongoing contact with alumni


One of the legal profession’s most prominent diversity schemes has pledged to develop stronger relationships with students following their work experience placements — and brought in three teachers to a newly formed advisory committee to help it achieve this goal.

PRIME, which is the gatekeeper for placements at 80 leading firms, will consult with Penelope Alford, head teacher at Working’s Hoe Valley School; Jamie Brownhill, the head of Central Foundation Boys’ School in London; and Suzanne Whiston, assistant principal at Leicester’s New College.

The trio will be joined by a host of PRIME alumni as the scheme bids to place “a refreshed focus on maintaining ongoing contact with alumni”.

The move is the first major announcement from new PRIME chief Nicholas Cheffings, whose day job is chair of Hogan Lovells, since he took over the role in May. It may be interpreted as a response to a National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) study found that 67% of PRIME students said they had no further contact with firms after they completed their work experience.

Cheffings, whose own humble background is similar to the students PRIME seeks to attract, told Legal Cheek:

We thought that the best way to inform our thinking and actions was to consult those at the very heart of the education sector which is hugely influential on how those young people’s lives play out. We want to make sure that our discussions are properly grounded in reality. The three teachers appointed to our newly formed Advisory Committee will provide essential insight, make recommendations, and provide realistic feedback that will help to ensure PRIME is having a real impact.

Cheffings is also seeking to boost communication and sharing best practice, and facilitate greater promotion of the PRIME message through web and social media presence. To this end, he has also brought in Brodies managing partner Bill Drummond and Chris White, the founder of diversity network Aspiring Solicitors. The pair will join lawyers from Freshfields, DLA Piper and Microsoft as board members.

Since being launched in 2011 by former Allen & Overy boss David Morley, PRIME has given over 4,000 school students City law work experience.