Working with the community
Below are a few examples of the firm's activities:
PRIME is a work experience programme that is intended to make the legal sector more accessible. Launched in 2011, the firm has committed to provide high quality, structured work experience to school age children from less advantaged backgrounds.
The objective is to have a credible and genuine impact on the legal sector to make it more inclusive and to aid social mobility. Crucially the initiative is intended to provide insight into the range of careers available in the legal profession and the potential routes into those careers.
Trowers & Hamlins is one of the 23 founding law firms and the aim is that the professional as a whole will provide 2,500 work experience places across the country by 2015, equating to broadly 50% of training contracts in the UK.
For further information on the programme, please visit the PRIME website.
One of our key projects in working with the local community is our involvement with East Potential and their Routes to Work Scheme which provides residents of East London with an opportunity to undertake focussed training and work experience with corporate organisations.
We have participated in the scheme since 2004 and now run 12 placements in two tranches each year. The work placements are for a period of two weeks and typically are in a mixture of both fee earning and support departments in order to provide attendees with the chance to gain specific office and administrative skills. All attendees are given a “full desk” as we believe this is key to the success of the scheme - it provides a sense of responsibility and value and a real opportunity to learn.
Everyone undertaking a placement with us gains something - a new skill, a different method of working or greater knowledge of office life and for some, permanent employment and with that an opportunity to make positive life changes. Indeed, since starting the scheme we are delighted to have recruited 17 East London residents into permanent jobs with the firm.
Our involvement with East Potential has been further developed through the introduction of the Trainee Legal Secretarial Programme in 2006. The programme runs for 12 months and provides focussed training, development and work opportunities to enable the participants to seek a job as a legal secretary at the end of the programme.
Our work with East Potential was recognised with 3rd place award for Pro Bono Team of the Year at the 2007 Lawyer Awards.
Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership
We are actively involved with the Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership's "Getting Ahead" programme which brings business and schools together to help young people succeed focussing on young people aged 13 to 18.
Trowers & Hamlins is a Volunteer firm and this means we participate in the Getting Ahead Conference workshops which covers the secondary schools in Tower Hamlets and runs during the academic year. The Conferences which are usually one or two days long are designed to develop employability skills and raise the aspirations of those taking part. We act as Group Advisors at these Conferences guiding supporting and motivating the youngsters during the workshops providing smart advice to help prepare them for the world of work.
St Paul’s Primary School, Whitechapel
Since 2000, members of the firm have been attending St Paul's on a weekly basis to help the pupils with their reading. Typically 30 to 40 staff are involved in the scheme at any one time.
The scheme was developed in 1991 by the Tower Hamlets Education Business Partnership with the objective of encouraging the private sector to work with schools in Tower Hamlets to boost achievement and pupils' skills.
Those involved enjoy their contact with the children immensely. The children are very keen to learn and therefore rewarding to work with. From the school's perspective the reading scheme offers a valuable additional resource in terms of assisting with the development of literacy skills.
We have developed our link with the school over the years to the extent that we run a competition each year for the children to design our corporate Christmas card. We also sponsor an annual creative writing competition and one of our Partners, Ian Graham, is now Chair of the Governors of the school.
In 2006 we signed up to work with ProHelp, an organisation linked to Business In the Community. ProHelp act as a link between community and charitable organisations who require pro bono assistance from corporate firms. This assistance can range from legal advice in all manner of disciplines, marketing, financial and IT advice and guidance.
The firm has agreed to work with ProHelp on a UK basis, with our London, Manchester and Exeter offices getting involved.
Wynstream Primary School
We are currently taking part in the "right to read" scheme being run through Business in the Community. We have 13 members of staff who, by rota, attend once a week for one hour at Wynstream Primary School in Exeter to assist children between the ages of 7-11 with their reading.
Our Manchester office work with Manchester Methodist Housing Association to support the Northmoor Community Association in inner-city Manchester. Partners and staff have assisted with a range of projects to support local residents including decorating, gardening and rubbish clearance. We are also working together to develop a system for providing work placement opportunities for local residents in supported housing, in addition to our existing links with Ladders2Law and the Social Mobility Foundation who arrange work placement opportunities within the professions for bright school students from low income backgrounds.
Through the firm's national commitment to ProHelp (see above) the Manchester office is providing pro bono legal advice to a local charity that is planning to build a centre that provides respite and residential care services for disabled people in the North West.
We have links with two local secondary schools for whom we have run workshops in our offices and provided work experience opportunities for groups of 14-15 year olds. This initiative is intended to broaden the horizons of would-be school leavers to encourage them to consider a range of job opportunities, and/or what further qualifications or training they might need.
In addition the office supports Lifeshare, a local charity that works with homeless people, by donating all funds raised from our monthly Dress Down Days, our Christmas Card Opt-Out Collection and through contributions of clothing and groceries for Lifeshare's Christmas Appeal.
The Abu Dhabi Office has all our shredding recycled by Shred-it who shred the documents on site and then arrange for the shredded documents to be recycled. Each fee earner has a Shred-it box in their office and there are numerous other boxes located around the office. The facility is widely used by everyone in the office.
There is a repository for used drink cans and plastic bottles which are then taken to a central facility in Abu Dhabi for recycling.
The office is supportive of and actively involved with the British School in Abu Dhabi, British School Al Khubairat (BSAK), Andrew Rae is a member of the Board of Governors and we regularly have work experience students from the BSAK. Trowers donated a prize for the BSAK fund raising fete.
Meanwhile in Bahrain they are involved with St Christopher's School and the French School (at both schools we are on the Governor's board). We have carried out pro bono work for the people of the Dhow boat disaster. The Bahrain office has taken part in a charity marathon and a charity raft race for local charities. Each year 20% of the cost of an Eid card sent out by the Bahrain office goes to a range of local charities. They are also involved in the Australian Business Group which raises funds for emergency situations with regard to local workers.
Activities in Dubai are varied and include longstanding involvement with the British Business Group which organises a family fun day to raise money for two local charities and one UK charity, sponsors local students and supports a training establishment for people with sight difficulties by funding the training of teaching staff; committee memberships with the Canadian Business Council and the Australian Business Group, both of which donate money to various charities. We are also involved with The British University in Dubai and Jebel Ali Primary School, being on the governing board of both.
The Oman office offers pro bono work to the community in Oman. For instance, the Oman office is an active member in the Oman LNG Forum, a forum which focuses on sustainable development projects, such as building houses for the poor in the interior of Oman, assisting locals in farming, poultry and honey production activities and also assisting schools in the interior by providing necessary equipment and facilities.
The forum has also spent considerable sums on charitable organisations. The Oman Office has also entered into an agreement with the Knowledge Oasis Oman (KOM) to provide advice to young Omani entrepreneurs starting businesses in the information technology area. This work involves conducting seminars on various laws relevant to their activities.
The partners in the Oman office are also contributing, as board members, in a number of organisations such as the British School in Muscat, the British Scholarships for Oman (a non-profit group aiming at providing scholarships to Omanis to study in the UK). The firm regularly sponsors charitable events and has recently sponsored a charity sport event in Oman for the disabled.
The Oman office plays a prominent role in the organisation of the "Oman Awards", a yearly event in the Oman business community which aims to raise the awareness of and promote issues such as investing in people and protection of the environment. In the wake of cyclone Gonu which hit Oman in June 2007, the Oman office and the firm as a whole have been involved in a variety of charity initiatives including collecting funds, making donations and volunteering in projects to assist communities who have been affected by cyclone Gonu.
Trowers & Hamlins Cairo provides the following pro-bono services:
Sara Hinton is a Board Member of British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) which works to stimulate trade between Egypt and Britain as well as lobbying the government on changes of law and carrying out charitable events. Sara Hinton has assisted with Chevening scholarship interviews.
This is the British Government's top scholarship scheme and is only awarded only to Egypt's brightest and most promising graduates and professionals to enable them to study in the UK and build cross-cultural relations. Previous recipients of scholarships include Ministers of the Egyptian Government.
We also do work for certain NGO's on a discounted basis such as SOS Kinderdorf, the orphan charity. As an individual initiative, we have introduced a charity box for monthly donations from the staff of the Cairo office. This is put in reception at the beginning of each month and the money collected is distributed to various charities including, a children's cancer hospital, orphanages and charity departments of public sector hospitals.
Furthermore, we undertake paper recycling and occasionally we collect unneeded items of clothing from staff for distribution to charitable organisation or to people in need.
We are continually looking at ways in which we can help the maintain the stability of the environment and here are some examples of what we have been doing recently.
We introduced a firm wide recycling system for polystyrene, plastic, aluminium cans and glass. We actively recycle our waste paper and have thus far this year saved the equivalent of 61 trees!! None of our waste goes to landfill. Our used printer cartridges are collected on a weekly basis by a waste contractor, and the proceeds from this initiative are then donated to charity. Finally we have recently introduced thermos mugs, plastic beakers and metal teaspoons, so as to remove the need to use polystyrene cups and plastic teaspoons.