The powerful impact of employee volunteering and how it helped to get me where I am today.

When I was 15 years old, I was lucky enough to take part in Young Citizens' Legal Experts in Schools programme, an employee volunteering programme which partnered Firrhill High School with multi-national law firm CMS.

This programme gave me unique access to legal professionals and over the course of the programme I developed a deeper understanding of the law and its importance. Ultimately, taking part in the programme played a big part in getting me where I am today, and now - 7 years later - I work as a corporate responsibility coordinator at CMS, the same law firm that partnered with my high school all those years ago.

As a young person, the programme taught me many things. I discovered quite how multi-faceted the law is: it touches upon every aspect of our daily lives, which isn’t necessarily something you realise as a 15-year-old. The programme also gave me the chance to meet and work with an array of legal professionals who facilitated the sessions. I was able to ask them questions about the law and learn about the paths they themselves had taken.  For me, this sparked an interest in legal study and careers.

I therefore went on to participate in the PRIME legal work experience initiative as an S4 pupil. This saw me spend a week in the Edinburgh office of CMS. Having experienced some of the theoretical side of law through Legal Experts in Schools, it was great to see this being put into practice in a real-life work environment. This definitely affirmed my interest in a legal career. Work experience really is invaluable, no matter how young you are – I was only 16 but stayed in contact with the people I met on the PRIME programme and have since been given fantastic opportunities as a result.

After sitting my Advanced Highers in S6, I went on to study law at Cambridge University. This was a really enlightening and invigorating experience, though it was by no means easy! In my second year of university, I also took part in a summer vacation scheme at the CMS London office, and was then offered a traineeship with the firm. This whole journey was sparked by Legal Experts in Schools. The efforts you make even in the early years can have a huge impact long-term.

Working in the CMS corporate responsibility team, I am now helping to deliver the same Young Citizens programmes I took part in when I was at high school! It’s brilliant to see how the programme still encourages the young people to discuss such a broad range of topics – from intellectual property to migration – and really inspiring how much the students already know about these incredibly complex subjects.

Unfortunately, these areas don’t always feature in school curriculums. Legal Experts in Schools therefore fills a real gap, while helping young people to realise their potential and offering lawyers a fantastic chance to volunteer and to give something back to their communities. In my case, it helped to get me where I am today.

So whether you are a fellow corporate responsibility professional or a lawyer committed to helping young people get involved in school. I strongly encourage you to take this opportunity. You'll never know how much it can inspire a young person.

Ross

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