Social inclusion and widening access to the legal profession is a key priority for our firm. We are therefore committed to developing an international programme which supports young people in education to access work and opportunities. This involves creating long term partnerships with schools in our local communities that have high numbers of students from low income or otherwise disadvantaged backgrounds. We will also develop a supportive programme of interventions and mentoring, including work experience, with the aim of improving the employability of young people entering the job market. The successful delivery of such a programme will ensure that we have honoured our on-going commitments to PRIME and the Deputy PM Social Mobility Compact.
Our pro bono programme supports those who cannot afford or are denied access to justice, both in our local and international communities as well as in the jurisdictions where we do business. This encompasses individuals who need access to legal advice as well as small community groups and larger charitable organisations.
To ensure the greatest impact in our communities, we recognise that we need to offer our people exciting and stretching projects. Our aim in 2012/13 has been to find ways of engaging those who, thus far, have not found the time nor felt the inclination to get involved as well as look at meaningful ways of rewarding those who do.
Photo of Nkenna Morgan-Odileke, Young Talent Student. Photo taken by Silvana Goci, Young Talent Student, during her work experience placement
Access to education
Our London office has continued to send volunteers to Moreland Primary School in Islington, London, to provide reading support once a week to children aged between 10-11. The children range in reading capabilities and the aim of the reading scheme is to build the children’s confidence and to improve their reading and comprehension levels. The Moreland Reading Scheme is our longest running social inclusion scheme and this year we have looked to further develop our relationship with the school. In March 2013, the Simmons & Simmons Charitable Foundation approved a proposal from one of our employees, Lucy Jones, to support the development of its after school club. This will include covering the staffing costs, providing IT equipment to support learning and helping the school to address current low attendance.
In July 2012 we invited our Moreland reading scheme students to our London office for an end of year celebration. The students were asked to produce a poster for the Moreland reading scheme and the winning design is now used in our office and at the school.
Poster designed by year 6 students at Moreland Primary School
Tracey Halls, Secretary, reading to a child at Moreland Primary School
Supporting children in Hong Kong
Our Hong Kong office has supported two organisations; Sunshine Action and The Society for the Relief of Disabled Children. This included hosting a Movie Night in October 2012 in aid of Sunshine Action. The team booked out a 77-seat cinema to watch a movie and the event was attended by clients, employees, family and friends. The team raised a significant sum for Sunshine Action and this was also matched by the firm’s Charitable Foundation.
Charity lunch buffet in the Hong Kong office. All proceeds raised for The Society for the Relief of Disabled Children
Young Talent programme
Teaming up with the Twist Partnership, we have developed an ambitious programme with Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow, London.
Each year a group of Year 10 students is selected, with input from the school as well as the firm, to be part of the programme. The programme itself consists of a series of activities and mentoring, including work experience, presentations, workshops and paid internships. We make a commitment to support these students for up to seven years – during school and college, and, if they decide to go on to university, the firm continues to provide on-going mentoring and an opportunity for them to apply for a bursary from the firm’s Charitable Foundation. Our ultimate aim is for these students to become role models in their own right and to inspire the next generation of Young Talent students.
To meet our PRIME commitments, we knew that we wanted to offer at least 20 work placements of 35 hours each year. As at 30 April 2013, 24 young people had been selected onto the Young Talent programme and successfully completed one week of work experience at the firm. Twelve Year 11 students will be coming back to the firm in the summer 2013 for a week’s paid internship.
These impressive young people have had a powerful impact on our firm. We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from our partners and staff about their interaction with the students. Volunteer numbers have risen by 400% from previous social mobility programmes and interest continues to grow.
“I went to visit Simmons & Simmons yesterday to see my son and other pupils do a presentation on their one week work experience. It was really wonderful to see our students so engaged with the project, they did ever so well and the company seemed genuinely delighted to have had them. For the last two days my son has been working in the finance department sharing an office with a very kind financial lawyer who was only seven years older than him. He had done his GCSE’s in 2005 and could therefore talk in great detail about his career path. He discussed A level options with my son, talked about universities and work. Most of all he made my son really believe he could have a future in whatever he wanted to do and in a very realistic way made him see that working hard for his GCSEs is really worth the effort. I don’t know how you could inspire a 15 year old more than this young lawyer did.” Parent and Governor, Frederick Bremer School
Click on the videos below to hear what the students said:
We have been the legal partner of UNICEF Netherlands since 2006. The Amsterdam office provides a wide range of legal advice to UNICEF, including tax and employment matters, at a significantly reduced rate. Over the last year, we have further developed our longstanding relationship with UNICEF and in October 2012, the firm signed a five-year agreement to sponsor the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights Studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands. The Chair is an important part of the recently founded international expertise centre for children’s rights at Leiden University. The centre’s main priority is to guarantee that children’s rights will receive consistent academic attention. This is achieved by conducting scientific research, developing a Children’s Rights master and a summer school programme that focuses on international children’s rights as well as organising expert meetings and conferences. Funding for the Chair sponsorship programme has been made available through the Simmons & Simmons Charitable Foundation.
“Over the past years we have built a strong relationship with UNICEF Netherlands. We are very excited about this initiative. It fits in seamlessly with our corporate responsibility philosophy: promoting justice and equal opportunities.” Jean-Pierre van Leeuwe, Partner
A.R. Neve, University Fund Leyden and Johan Polet, Partner, Simmons & Simmons Amsterdam signing the sponsorship agreement for the UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands
This year our London office has supported Debate Mate – a unique, international educational charity dedicated to improving social mobility using cost-effective peer-to-peer debate mentoring. A group of volunteers from our ECR team in the London office attend and mentor at the weekly Debate Mate sessions at the Central Foundation Boys School. The group mentor the students aged between 13-14, to encourage strategic thinking and structured arguments. We are also pleased to have hosted two Debate Mate competitions at our London office, the Artemis Debate Mate Cup and the Attorney General Cup.
Dominic Grieve, Attorney General, Nancy Dell'Olio and Arthur Stewart, Partner, Simmons & Simmons at the Debate Mate Attorney General Cup event
We are very pleased to have continued our relationship with the City YMCA this year. In London, the Simmons & Simmons football team hosted a very successful 5-a-side match against the City YMCA team, followed by celebratory pizzas. The firm’s Charitable Foundation has also supported the City YMCA and their Christmas appeal.
"In December, Simmons & Simmons F.C. organised a 5-a-side game against a team of young guys from the City YMCA in Erroll Street, just up the road from the London office. It was a close match, but in the end the YMCA edged us out to win the win. It was a hugely enjoyable evening for us, and it was good to get the team involved with one of the firm’s sponsored charities.” Art Markham, Supervising Associate
Simmons & Simmons F.C squad (L-R):
Standing: Rich Hughes, Qaiser Khan, Andy Renouf, Phil Holdaway, Nick Merritt, Ruari Murphy, Rob Nield
Sitting: Ivan Da Cruz, Art Markham, Tom West, Tom Makin
The Big Issue Foundation
We have worked with the Big Issue Foundation for over five years. We have continued to participate in the Big Issue Vendor Development Programme. Each six months a Big Issue vendor joins our firm, selling copies of the magazine in our London office as well as completing a personalised training programme. Our Learning & Development team meet with each vendor when they begin the programme to understand whether they have a particular area of interest or learning focus that they would like to develop. We then match the vendor to a relevant internal volunteer who will run shadowing or informal training sessions. Our most recent vendor, Sharon Payne, was particularly keen to refresh her IT skills and document formatting and consequently spent a significant amount of time with Angie Davidson, IT Training Consultant, who supported Sharon’s learning and set her homework tasks to develop her knowledge.
“I really enjoyed my six months at Simmons & Simmons; people were so friendly and helpful especially in departments where I had training or where people allowed me to pick their brains to satisfy my curiosity. Many thanks to everyone for making my time so enjoyable and profitable in so many ways; it was an amazing experience.” Sharon Payne , Big Issue Vendor
Click below to hear more from our Big Issue vendors.
Click here to view a video by Stephen Robertson, CEO of The Big Issue Foundation, talking at our 2012 CR Award Ceremony.
The firm has always taken its commitment to pro bono seriously, but to support these efforts further a new target for all lawyers in the UK to complete 50 hours pro bono every year was announced in November 2012, during National Pro Bono Week. To ensure that individuals receive recognition for this contribution, up to 50 pro bono hours are now included in the calculations of billable hours bonus. This 50 hour pro bono target has since been adopted by our offices in Asia and the Middle East.
Crossing international boundaries
We have continued to take on projects from Advocates for International Development (A4ID), LawWorks, Trustlaw, Pure Leapfrog and International Senior Lawyers - UK. The increase in the variety of pro bono clients supported by the firm, has led to increased participation and the undertaking of pro bono across all our practice groups.
The Hong Kong and China offices, led by partner Fiona Loughrey, have continued to advise Oxfam on various employment and commercial matters over the past year including immigration requirements, commercial agreements, trademark registration, personnel outsourcing and setting up an additional local/regional operation.
“Simmons & Simmons has been providing pro bono legal services to Oxfam Hong Kong since 2010. We have a good relationship and greatly acknowledge and appreciate the professional services provided. We sincerely thank Simmons & Simmons for their support to our Organisation.” Oxfam, Hong Kong
Legal advice centres
In London, the firm continues to provide a weekly clinic at the Battersea branch of South West London Law Centres (SWLLC). This is our longest running pro bono scheme and the firm’s involvement spans 22 years. As a result of further restrictions to legal aid provision, the need for legal advice to those who cannot afford it has increased dramatically and our involvement makes a crucial difference. This year our volunteers have provided advice to 382 people who would not otherwise have been able to afford a solicitor. Our clinic work at Battersea Legal Advice Centre (BLAC) has been recognised and shortlisted in the “Partnership” category in the 2013 Annual LawWorks Pro Bono Awards. We continue to second our trainees for a three month seat at SWLLC.
This year we have extended our clinic work to provide a monthly advice clinic at Queen Mary University (“Supporting Those Who Serve”) for members of the armed services. This new project was nominated for the Attorney General Awards for Best Contribution by a law school and Best New Project in the 2013 Annual LawWorks Pro Bono Awards.
Adrian Smith, partner in our IP team, has advised the NSPCC on trademark and IP issues for several years and the firm now sits on the NSPCC legal panel for pro bono work. Adrian Smith and Mark Bhandal, trademark attorney, have specifically advised on clearance registration and enforcement of trademarks and related IP issues. They have also recently advised on the new branding of the letterhead logo. As the firm is a panel advisor to the NSPCC, there will be further involvement from the real estate and employment teams.
Selfless, is a youth-led development charity which aims to empower communities by sharing skills, knowledge and providing healthcare around the world. Selfless has set up an online platform for skilled young professionals to find volunteering opportunities based on their skills, interests, experiences and time. A team led by Ayesha Quershi, supervising associate, has been assisting Selfless to develop a set of terms and conditions for their medical volunteers and the NGOs that receive assistance from the Selfless volunteers.
The Big Issue Foundation
The corporate team, led by Matt Rees has continued to advise The Big Issue on a number of matters. Over the past year we have assisted them on an important litigation matter, on issues relating to the self-employment status of Big Issue vendors, on a new lease for their Bristol office, on an innovative arrangement with a mobile phone company to provide Big Issue Vendors with dedicated SIM cards and on various other contractual matters including their regular Big Sleep Out and London to Paris Bike Ride events.
Simmons & Simmons employees taking part in the Big Night Walk organised by The Big Issue Foundation
Tablee de chefs
The Paris office, led by partner Yves Barratte, continues to advise Tablee de Chefs on corporate and franchising issues. Tablee de Chefs is a charity set up to take unsold food from restaurants and retailers and distributes it to food banks.
Other examples of where we have supported the Red Cross include our Madrid office who recently sold raffle tickets for the organisation.
“I can’t commend the support Simmons & Simmons give us enough – the trainee secondment and continued pro bono assistance really help us to achieve our goals. It was wonderful to have Bronagh with us on secondment – she is a credit to your firm”. Andrew Napier, Head of Legal at British Red Cross