The Growing Ambitions scheme offered by Blake Morgan gives teenage social housing tenants nominated by local housing associations the chance to gain hands-on experience of what it’s like to work at a law firm. Blake Morgan has been running this unique scheme since 2012, and after a break due to Covid-19, was pleased to reintroduce the scheme again earlier this year.
The aim of Growing Ambitions is to equip students with knowledge of the skills and experience they need to build a career in law, and inform the students of the different routes available to access a career in law. During the scheme, the aim is for students to gain a taste of what life is like as a solicitor in various departments, and the different roles available in a law firm, and the wider legal sector.
Whilst the scheme is ideal for students who are considering a career in law, the aim is also to give the students a more general opportunity of experiencing office life, and gain confidence in an office environment. Such experience is key to building student CVs, shaping career options and enhancing their future employability skills. The hope is to remove the barriers to success that students may feel, and create a platform for the students to succeed from in the future.
The 2023 Scheme
Growing Ambitions was held in July 2023, in Blake Morgan’s Oxford office, and involved 8 students aged 16-18 taking part in a unique weeklong work experience placement. Among the students, 6 were tenants of and selected by Fairhive Housing Association, and the remaining 2 students were selected by Cottsway House Association.
The scheme was structured and run by trainee solicitors at Blake Morgan. Throughout the week the students had the opportunity to shadow trainee solicitors in departments such as, Commercial and Charities, Commercial Property, Employment, Family, Regulatory and Succession and Tax. Further to this, they attended presentations run by a police officer, a pupil barrister, and a senior digital marketing executive. The students also took part in a CV and interviewing workshop, as well as workshops to learn key legal skills such as client interviewing. Lastly, the students enjoyed taking part in external visits to Oxford County Court, and a campus tour and taster law lecture at Oxford Brookes University.
Chris Potts, Partner and Head of the Commercial Litigation team, closed off the week, giving a presentation and awarding all participants with certificates to mark the completion of a successful week.
Rosie Mowbray, Community Engagement Business Partner, at Fairhive House Association said:
At Fairhive, we are so grateful to Blake Morgan for putting on the Growing Ambitions Scheme. This scheme gives our young residents a brilliant opportunity to spend the week at Blake Morgan helping them decide on their future career paths. They gain vital work experience and learn more about the world of business.
She added: “During the 2023 initiative, we had 6 of our young Residents attend. As a result of this, 5 of them advised they can see themselves having a career as a solicitor and they all advised they were feeling more confident as a result of the scheme. Not only did they get the opportunity to learn more about a career in law, they also learned vital life skills such as interviewing, presentation skills, advice on how to navigate a recruitment process and tips for CVs and interviews.
“It is great this scheme exists and our young residents have benefited significantly as a result of this.”
Penny Rinta-Suksi, Social Value Ambassador at Blake Morgan said:
“It is so important to offer this experience to people who might struggle to picture themselves in this profession or who may look for safety in numbers to raise their aspirations and believe that they deserve this chance. Social inclusion is an important part of Blake Morgan’s Social Value goals and we highly value the Growing Ambitions initiative.”
It was a pleasure to run the scheme, and it was rewarding to see the students’ confidence grow throughout the week. All students positively engaged with the week, and gained knowledge of both the legal profession and the office working environment. Many of the students shared that this was the first office work experience they had taken part in, so it was great to enable this access.
The student feedback forms evidenced the success of the scheme, as all students said that they would recommend Growing Ambitions to a friend. One participant wrote that it was “Amazing, very insightful and valuable”. Another student stated that it was “very helpful and widened my knowledge of the law”. Lastly, another student stated that they received all the information they needed and now had “so much to talk about for my future interviews and applications“.
Lorna Jones, Community Investment Officer, at Cottsway Housing Association said:
It all ran smoothly and it was a pleasure to meet all the staff at Blake Morgan… the participants really enjoyed the more practical side of the week, in particular the shadowing, learning what its really like to work as a solicitor and all of the placement opportunities that were available to them.
We look forwarding to running Growing Ambitions in Oxford again next year. Growing Ambitions is one of a number of community schemes run to help students gain valuable work experience, which includes PRIME and Blake Morgan’s involvement with Aspiring Solicitors.