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PRIME and social mobility

25 September 2013

What is PRIME?

PRIME is a commitment by the legal sector to provide fair access to quality work experience for students from non-privileged backgrounds. It sets out minimum standards in relation to reaching the right people and providing a high quality experience.

Why is it needed?

A diverse and inclusive legal profession must be accessible to talented people of all socio-economic backgrounds. From the latest research, we know that 30 per cent of solicitors were privately educated compared with just 7 per cent of the general population reflecting a number of barriers to fair access.

One of these barriers is that students from privileged backgrounds are likely to be able to access informal work experience opportunities more easily than those from less privileged backgrounds.

So is it a work experience programme?

PRIME is not a work experience programme in itself. Legal practices who have signed up to PRIME are making a commitment to run work experience schemes which meet minimum standards. These minimum standards ensure access to quality work experience for those from less privileged backgrounds.

How is it different to what already goes on?

Individually, lots of legal practices are working to improve access for students from less privileged backgrounds. These often take the form of work experience programmes that vary in scale and scope across the country. PRIME is about underpinning these work experience programmes with standards which ensure fair access to quality work experience.

What are the minimum standards?

These are detailed in the wording of the PRIME commitment but they generally deal with what constitutes work experience and who it should be for.

  • work experience must include at least 30-35 hours per place and a commitment to developing key business and personal skills in areas such as oral and written presentation, networking and negotiation. Firms must offer a way to maintain contact after work experience has ended as well as provide financial assistance during the programme.
  • firms must provide a number of work experience places that is not less than 50% of the number of training contracts they offer each year.

Participants should confirm that they:

  • attend a state (non-fee paying) school and
  • are school age students in Year 9 to Year 13 and
  • are or have been eligible for free school meals (or where this information is difficult or sensitive to obtain, the participant attends a school that is significantly above the regional average in terms of number of students eligible for free school meals) or
  • would be of the first generation in their immediate family to attend university.

Who is involved in PRIME?

PRIME is a profession-led movement founded by a group of leading firms and supported by social mobility experts, the Sutton Trust. More than 90 legal practices including law firms and in-house legal teams are already committed to PRIME.

Is help available?

There is a range of support available to firms or in-house teams seeking to implement the PRIME commitment, including a starter pack with examples of successful work experience programmes. PRIME also operates a buddy system matching new signatories with PRIME members, who can help by sharing their experience including top tips and how to avoid potential pitfalls.

What are the benefits of signing up?

Signatories to PRIME are associated with an award-winning scheme, recognised as exemplary by a broad range of key stakeholders including the government's Independent Commissioner on Social Mobility, The Right Honourable Alan Milburn;

'The lack of social mobility in our society is not a problem that can be solved by any one organisation or any one sector. Sections of our society who play a part in the problem, and who have a stake in finding a solution, need to take collective responsibility and work together to provide meaningful solutions. The legal profession is a great example. If the cycle of unequal distribution of opportunity is to be broken, and the most talented people from all backgrounds are to be given a fair chance, the sector needs to act. And through the PRIME programme this is what it is doing.'

PRIME also offers a valuable opportunity to partner with clients with examples of several successful partnerships available on the website

How can legal practices sign up?

You will find all the information you need at


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