Top UK Law Firms Seek to Boost Social Diversity by Providing Work to Less Privileged Teens

England’s top law firms are backing an initiative to increase social diversity in the profession by giving half their work experience positions to teens from less privileged backgrounds.

Twenty-three law firms have already agreed to participate in the program, known as Prime, according to a press release. Eligible students are between the ages of 14 and 18, and must qualify for free school meals or must have had no family member ever attend a university, according to Legal Week, the Lawyer and the London Evening Standard. Participating firms will pledge to hire such students for half of their work experience placements, which provide 30 to 35 hours of work experience for each student.

Prime’s goal is to provide 2,500 annual work experience positions for eligible youths by 2015. Few lawyers at the United Kingdom’s top law firms are thought to be from less privileged backgrounds, according to the Evening Standard. A 2009 study by the social mobility charity The Sutton Trust found that 68 per cent of barristers and 70 per cent judges came from fee paying schools, rather than state schools, compared with 7 per cent of the general population.

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