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Lewis Silkin announces new charity partnership with the Sutton Trust

20 September 2023

We are proud to announce our new charity partnership with the Sutton Trust, an organisation dedicated to fighting for social mobility.

Our Responsible Business & Sustainability Manager, Michelle Besa, explains more about the decision to partner with the Sutton Trust.

It’s like a tale of two cities. It’s a hot and sunny day in September and as I sit in our refreshingly cool office I look out of the tall windows of our smart new office. I cannot help but think of the contrast between thriving businesses in the London Borough of Southwark and the pockets of deprivation that also lie within the Borough. While it is 2023, the postcode you are born into, the school you went to and the job your parents did still determine your life chances.

I’m therefore immensely proud that we are entering into a three-year partnership with leading social mobility charity, the Sutton Trust.

A desire to improve social mobility is part of our firm’s DNA, thanks to Lewis Silkin (b.1889), who we are named after. Lewis Silkin’s family came to the UK as refugees, and he was brought up in poverty. Despite this, he became a solicitor and then an MP, eventually taking up a Ministerial post in the Attlee government and going on to sit in the House of Lords. (Interestingly, the founder and Chair of the Sutton Trust was also a refugee who went on to be very successful in business, so there is a parallel between our two organisations).

Improving social mobility is one of two strategic themes for our Responsible Business Programme and a key pillar of our DEI strategy. We know that this is an area where we can have a positive impact; historically, a career in the legal sector has been difficult to access for people from less privileged backgrounds.

Our efforts to help improve social mobility have been making real progress. We took in a second cohort of solicitor apprentices last year because we recognise that degree apprenticeships are a powerful driver for social mobility. We run a range of initiatives from our flagship LS mentoring scheme (a nine-month programme for students aged 16-18) to our careers outreach sessions in social mobility ‘cold spots’ (which last year reached 2,000 students). As a result of these efforts and others, we are now in the top ten law firms in the Social Mobility Index.

Partnering with the Sutton Trust gives us a brilliant opportunity to help improve social mobility through volunteering, pro bono and fundraising activities. We are excited by the charity’s ‘do tank’ and ‘thinktank’ approach - utilising its policy and research work to tackle the systemic and root causes of low social mobility in the UK and embedding this research within its programmes, demonstrating a needs-led approach which we strongly believe in.

As we commence our partnership, we are energised by the opportunity to support the Sutton Trust’s 10-year plan to reach 30,000 students by the end of the decade. Through our partnership, we will work together to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds access the legal profession and drive social mobility.

Within the firm, we know just how impactful the Sutton Trust’s work is, as our team includes several alumni of Sutton Trust programmes. I want to sign off this blogpost with a quote from one of them:

The programme exposed me to things I had never experienced before. My first ever trip to London. My first legal work experience. The opportunity to speak to lawyers. University guidance, CV help, networking sessions. Without the help from social mobility programmes, I don’t know where I’d be today.


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