Provident Financial prepares to welcome students for legal work experience

Provident Financial will host students at its office in Bradford on 1 August as part of its work with the Social Mobility Business Programme.

The programme sees students from across the country attend a one-day taster event to learn about and experience what it’s like to work in the legal profession.

Some 30 to 40 students from secondary schools and colleges in Bradford will meet Provident Financial Group general counsel and company secretary Ken Mullen (pictured) and his team of 15 in-house lawyers. They will receive a work insight and skills programme throughout the day and those students that impress the most will be invited back for a full week of work experience.

Mullen said of the programme: “These kids are very bright and in any other school they would be A* students looking at careers in medicine and law. But because of where they are from they would never think of the legal profession. So we get them in and break it all down. We’re really keen on the programme. Whoever impresses us most is invited back to do a week’s work experience with us. It’s quite amazing as you watch the students jockey for it.”

The programme was inspired by a work placement scheme run in 2013 with founding organisations including ITV, Microsoft, Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Slaughter and May, and Harlequins RUFC, which collaborated to offer a week-long work insight opportunity for 20 London students.

This then grew in to the predecessor scheme, the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, which provided places to 20 students in London. The partnership expanded to Greater Manchester in 2015, Leeds and Birmingham in 2016, and in 2017 to Bristol, Brighton and Reading, bringing the total number of student places to more than 300 and the number of participating organisations offering work insight opportunities to 70 (including adidas, Barclays, Fremantle, Viacom, Oath, Manchester United, Manchester City, Plusnet, Virgin Atlantic, American Express, N Brown Group, Yeo Valley and EE).

Fast forward to 2018, the Social Mobility Business Partnership (a registered charity) is now a collaboration of more than 100 commercial organisations, professional services firms and professional sports teams, working across nine towns and cities.

The programme is driven by Barry Matthews, director of legal and third-party sales at ITV. He acts as volunteer CEO of the Social Mobility Business Partnership.