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In late March a group of senior partners from some of London’s top firms—including Herbert Smith, Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose, and the Magic Circle—arrived at the Bishopsgate headquarters of Allen & Overy. A&O senior partner David Morley had convened the meeting to discuss his ideas for a novel social mobility initiative. Morley wanted to create 2,500 internships for students from less-privileged backgrounds by 2015. In September, with the support of 23 firms, Prime was launched. The member firms are providing student interns—equivalent to 50 percent of the firm’s annual intake of trainee attorneys—with a minimum of 30 hours of training to develop business and personal skills. (Larger U.K. law firms typically take on around 100 trainees per year.) The firms are also obliged to provide financial assistance to the students during their internship and to maintain contact with them once it ends.

“David has been a great instigator of steps by the London legal community to address social mobility within the profession,” says Slaughter and May practice partner Graham White—one of those present at the initial Prime meeting. “It’s a very important issue and one that is clearly close to his heart.”

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