Shoosmiths’ new head of CSR to augment pro bono offering

Shoosmiths’ new head of CSR to augment pro bono offering” />Shoosmiths has appointed personal injury unit head Judith Dorkins to head the firm’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, giving the firm a coordinated approach to pro bono work for the first time.

The Northampton-based equity partner will be responsible for managing the CSR policy and has already implemented a community investment policy.

Dorkins says: “Shoosmiths has always had proactive, but relatively uncoordinated, community and pro bono activity. Our activity has been largely ad hoc, arising out of the culture of the business, which emphasises our belief that work is not all about the nine-to-five.

“Our community investment policy provides guidelines on what opportunities are available and what support the firm can give.

“We don’t select our community investment work on the basis of how much PR we can achieve from it, and we’ll measure our success in terms of time given as well as money.”

Shoosmiths’ community investment policy identifies three areas where the firm attempts to make a positive impact: pro bono work, financial donations and employee volunteering.

The firm already undertakes a range of pro bono work through personal links and Business in the Community’s pro-help scheme. The scheme identifies projects needing legal skills and marries them to firms. Dorkins says the firm allowed staff considerable leeway in choosing their community activities.

“Our staff play a key role in the decisions [the firm] makes and we’ve created a support structure to allow everyone the freedom to actively develop pro bono, charitable and community projects they feel passionately about,” she says.

Recent examples of Shoosmiths’ pro bono activities include advising a Hampshire nursery school on employment issues and setting up licences for West Midlands entrepreneurs in start-up businesses.

The firm also supports Arts for Health, a charity established to source works of art to brighten up hospitals. Pro bono advice from the firm to the charity included advising on achieving charitable status, forming a board and constitution and gaining local business sponsorship. Arts for Health remains an ongoing pro bono client for Shoosmiths.

The firm also has an established history of giving to charity, recently raising £20,000 for the Asian Tsunami Relief Fund and annually raising between £10,000 and £15,000 for a nominated charity.