Nine young people from less advantaged backgrounds in Bristol are being given the opportunity to experience a career in law at international legal practice Osborne Clarke as part of The Social Mobility Business Partnership (SMBP).

Formerly known as the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, the SMBP is a multi-award winning social mobility project dedicated to supporting students from low income backgrounds in their pursuit of a career, in particular, as a legal or finance professional.

The students spend a week where they visit each of the commercial partners per day. They learn about the different businesses, their in-house legal teams and accounting and finance functions. The students also receive ongoing virtual coaching from volunteers at Osborne Clarke and other partner organisations. It is intended that the programme will help them make more informed career choices and that the young people will come back to the participating organisations as future team members.

Now in its fifth year, the SMBP brings together professional bodies (the Solicitors Regulation Authority, CILEx, Law Society of Scotland, The Bar Standards Board, ACCA, the ICAEW and ICAS) social mobility experts (including The Sutton Trust and IntoUniversity) as well as commercial businesses, law and accountancy firms, and professional sports clubs, to deliver week-long, work insight programmes for students and ongoing career coaching. SMBP offers over 400 places across 16 clusters in nine different locations nationwide.

Osborne Clarke is acting as cluster head for the region, which means organising the other law firms and the commercial partners in Bristol.

These consist of law firms Burges Salmon, TLT and Charles Russell Speechlys. As part of the programme students have also spent time at the offices of commercial partners EE, ITV, YEO Valley, WH Smith and Bristol Sport, where as part of their visit they went to Ashton Gate to learn about the psychology of resilience and goal achievement.

Osborne Clarke welcomed students to its Temple Quay offices, where they took part in business skills workshops, shadowed current Osborne Clarke trainee solicitors and learnt about business service careers in law, as well as solicitor roles.

Osborne Clarke is one of the founding funding partners of the SMBP and UK managing partner Ray Berg is a trustee of the organisation.

“It has been a pleasure to welcome the SMBP students to our Bristol offices. Having come from a non-traditional background myself, I am passionate about fostering diversity at the firm. We see diversity as key to our future success and we are constantly looking for ways to recruit from a wider base,” says Ray Berg.

“I hope this week will have inspired the students to realise their aspirations of a career in law and that we will be seeing applications from them in the future.”

Barry Matthews, acting CEO of the SMBP, said: “This year is a real milestone with the scheme evolving in to a registered charity. The success of the scheme is built on the ethos of collaboration and the belief that no one organisation owns social mobility as an issue.

“Through our 100 plus partners we have created a model which makes the step on point for business easy – a day’s worth of content and some sandwiches. Our student sourcing relationships with law firms, other charities and local authorities including the Sutton Trust and IntoUniversity, has ensured a ‘baton pass’ approach to solving the issue of social mobility rather than a competitive one.

“We’re proud to work with Osborne Clarke, and all our partners, who share our passion and vision for increasing social mobility in the legal sector.”

Visit: osborneclarke.com