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PRIME, an initiative which aims to guarantee good quality work experience to state school students who fulfil certain social criteria, will focus on recruiting regional firms and in-house legal departments as it nears its second anniversary.
The scheme, which was launched on 10 September 2011 by 23 founder firms (now 22 due to mergers), now counts 89 law firms and eight in-house legal departments as signatories (21 September 2012).
In its second year it is estimated the scheme has provided more than 1,000 placements, a 50 per cent increase on the number offered in its first year.
When participants sign up to PRIME they agree to provide a number of work experience placements which at least equal half the number of training contracts they offer annually. It is estimated that signatories provided placements equivalent to approximately 55 to 60 per cent of the training contracts that they offer in the last year.
PRIME is now in discussion with a number of in-house teams and expects to announce more partnerships before the year’s end, although details of potential signatories are being kept under wraps.
Jane Masey, project leader at PRIME and diversity manager at Allen & Overy, explained: “I would like to see more partnerships with clients, because I really believe, having worked with some of our clients on this, that it gives students a much more in depth view of the profession.
“We are very pleased with the ongoing engagement of in-house teams. It has broadened what PRIME is offering to students.”
She also stated that those behind PRIME were determined that is should be perceived as a national scheme, rather than a City-centric initiative, saying: “Our goal from the beginning was for it to be a national scheme. I am really keen for it not to be seen as a City initiative. We are really focused on what we can do to encourage regional firms to get on board.”
Around 20-25 per cent of PRIME placements were located outside of London during the scheme’s second year.
However, Masey admitted that she did want to recruit more of the top 100 firms, of which only around 50 are currently PRIME signatories.
She said: “We did have the aspiration that everybody would sign up – that is not necessarily going to be the case. I think there are various things going in the market, there have been changes in the last year regarding training contract numbers, and it is not going to be the ideal time for a lot of these firms to commit to something like this.”