Global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright recently launched a new UK employee network, Advance, to champion social mobility.
Advance’s mission is to help the firm widen access to more socio-economically diverse talent in the UK, and foster an environment in which everyone – regardless of background – can develop to their full potential. The network also seeks to raise awareness of social mobility issues and to encourage employee participation in social mobility schemes and volunteering opportunities, as well as aiming to influence a wider approach to social mobility through cross-industry collaboration.
On January 28, 2021, Advance marked its external launch by hosting a panel event moderated by the network’s co-chairs with a panel comprising representatives from global corporations, a social mobility platform and the local education community. The speakers focused on how to advance the discussion on social mobility, answering questions submitted by students at local schools. The event was widely attended by more than 170 people, including clients and other industry participants, as well as members of the education community – teachers, local authority representatives and pupils, university students and future joiners of the firm
Three co-chairs lead the Advance network: corporate partner Clementine Hogarth; dispute resolution and litigation associate Mhairi Cosgriff; and business and legal operations trainee Emily Crees. They work together with a steering group of partners and employees from the firm’s London and Newcastle offices.
Clementine Hogarth comments:
“Social mobility is about distributing opportunity equally throughout society. The proportion of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds in the UK legal profession has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Every child should have access to inspiration, ideas and support, and the last year has demonstrated that so much needs to be done to ensure this is the case.
“We’ve had great engagement within the firm since the network’s internal launch in early 2020, so we’re really pleased that this external launch event has had fantastic support and contributed to our network’s aims of access and influence. We are grateful to Shell, Vodafone, Santander, Aspiring Solicitors and Newham Collegiate Sixth Form for their contributions and look forward to working with them and other industry participants to improve social mobility.”
Peter Scott, managing partner, Europe, Middle East & Asia, comments:
“A career in the legal sector should be open to people of all backgrounds. Diversity of thought and experience benefits our people and our clients. We have responsibility to ensure that people from all backgrounds have better access to employment opportunities, and that people from all backgrounds feel like they belong and can achieve their full potential at Norton Rose Fulbright.”
Over the last 10 years, Norton Rose Fulbright has focused on social mobility by committing to a number of projects in the UK, including working with Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), Rare Recruitment, the Sutton Trust Pathways to Law initiative and Aspiring Solicitors to engage and attract a socially diverse pool of high-performing undergraduates and graduates to its work experience programmes, vacation schemes and training contracts.
The firm is also signatory to the Social Mobility Pledge and a founding member of PRIME, an alliance of law firms in the UK committed to improving access to the legal profession, and has since 2011 hosted annual work experience programmes in London for over 220 sixth form students.
Norton Rose Fulbright is also an active sponsor and participant of a number of other initiatives to support wider access to employment including Smart Works and Breaking Barriers.
As part of the firm’s wider commitment to diversity and inclusion, Norton Rose Fulbright has 10 UK employee networks - including Advance – and 50 globally, which work collaboratively while considering intersectionality.