Access to education

The primary focus of Break into Law is working with talented high school students and law students. However, in many countries, underrepresented groups cannot access high school and/or tertiary education. To address this problem we have expanded Break into Law to include access to primary education, particularly in developing and post conflict countries.

Receiving an education is the first step to gaining future employment and is critical to the success of future generations and their ability to enter the legal profession.

We focus on projects that improve access to education in the first instance, so young people can progress to a level at which we can actively engage with them through our careers-based community development projects. The early stage of Break into Law therefore begins with building schools in developing countries and improving the attainment levels of primary school pupils, through to lifting the legal barriers to education through our pro bono work.

We engage in initiatives that ensure young people have the opportunity to attend and complete school, help increase their confidence and aspirations, and enable their parents and schools to support them to succeed.

Mentoring

All of our employees at DLA Piper have benefitted from, and understand the value of, education.

The aim of all our mentoring schemes is to encourage young people to graduate from high school to reach their full potential, and provide students with the tools to succeed. We provide coaching and guidance designed to encourage and motivate students to better understand the link between succeeding at school and achieving a successful professional career. Our people provide their mentees with an insight into the legal profession and the careers within it, describing the work environment, skills and attributes required to succeed.

Career insight

Many of our people at DLA Piper have inspiring stories to tell about the choices they have made and paths they have taken to reach their current occupation. Sharing these experiences can provide that 'light bulb moment' which motivates a young person to be more engaged at school and changes their perception about future goals. These opportunities are particularly valuable for young people who may not have access to career guidance and information or who do not have working role models to inspire them.

We regularly provide career talks and open days for young people to come and hear our people talk about their career choices, share lessons learned along the way and offer the opportunity to answer questions. We aim to de-mystify the careers that exist within the legal sector, exposing young people to the different and varied professions within a law firm.

By providing young people with a chance to learn about the legal profession and engage with our people, we hope to raise their aspirations and help them to make informed decisions about their future careers.

Employability skills

The aim of our employability skills projects is to equip students to apply for a job, build a CV and present themselves in an interview. Through engaging and practical workshops we help students develop skills required to secure employment. DLA Piper employees are able to use their knowledge and experience from their own careers and education to provide students with an understanding of the workplace environment and the importance of their studies and further education for their future careers.

Work experience

We provide work experience placements that enable young people to gain first-hand experience of professional office environments, build employability skills and understand work ethics. Our programmes provide students, especially those with limited access to supportive networks, with access to work experience and role models to assist them in the transition to further study or work.

We focus on experiential learning and participatory activities, as opposed to traditional placements spent shadowing a person's day-to-day work life. We have designed our programmes so that students gain a clear vision of the career possibilities available to them after completing their education. Our primary focus is to motivate students to be empowered to create a better future for themselves and to raise their aspirations, demonstrating what might be achieved through further study, training and goal setting.

Legal education

Practical sessions bring law to life for secondary and tertiary students. By sharing knowledge and experience through lively workshops and presentations, our lawyers help bring relevance and context to students' theoretical studies and advance their understanding of the law. Our legal education projects complement and enhance the students' curriculum and enable them to gain exposure to legal professionals, helping them reach their full potential in their legal studies.

Scholarships and sponsorships

We offer financial assistance through a number of educational institutions to support young people who are excelling in their educational but who are at risk of disengaging due to financial circumstance.

Internships and apprenticeships

Through our internships and apprenticeships we identify, mentor and develop young people from underrepresented groups who aspire to a career within the legal profession. As paid placements, these internships do not preclude anyone from participation due to financial circumstances, and allow these young people to gain a broad understanding of what it is like to work at DLA Piper. Participants learn the intricacies of everyday working life and build their confidence though contributing to real life projects and gaining recognition for their efforts, as well as building their own professional networks.

Diversity at DLA Piper

Equality, diversity and inclusion are fundamental to our business and are key components of DLA Piper's vision and values. We are defined by our people and are committed to recruiting, developing and retaining the highest calibre of professionals. We believe that fostering diversity and equality allows us to acquire the most talented people, to build the most effective teams for our clients, and deliver the highest level of service.

Whilst our diversity objectives are incorporated into our recruitment, retention and development policies, we also need to provide underrepresented young people with access to the skills development opportunities required to work within the legal profession, in order to effectively address such a systemic social issue. Our Break into Law projects feed in to our recruitment initiatives, which help ensure we employ the most talented people from a variety of backgrounds and that everyone has the potential for career progression within our firm.

To find out more about Diversity at DLA Piper visit our Diversity and Inclusion website.