Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP: The Freshfields Haggerston partnership

Education Award, supported by UKCES 2014, Big Tick, Highly Commended, Reaccredited 2015, 2016.

Freshfields’ partnership with Haggerston School in Hackney is improving the employability of students, increasing employee volunteers’ skills and building the firm’s reputation with clients.

Social impacts

  • In 2012/13, all 309 students the programme had a direct impact on increased their employability, with 205 showing a more positive attitude towards career progression and 96 improving their academic performance.
  • Enhanced the students' sense of wellbeing, with 307 saying they had increased confidence and self-esteem.
  • Increased students' understanding of the world of work, with 271 reporting a better understanding of the legal profession.

Business impacts

  • Enhanced the motivation and job satisfaction of volunteers.
  • Enabled skills development of volunteers, with 90% saying the programme had helped them develop new or existing skills.
  • Improved the reputation of the firm and gave opportunities for client relationship building

Our partnership with Haggerston is a great example of how business and schools can work together to bring real benefits to students, the school community and to the business. Over 14 years we have had a positive impact on the lives of thousands of young people through a range of activities such as mentoring, work experience, language programmes and providing governors. In return our people have broadened their skills and gained a huge amount of personal satisfaction from volunteering at the school. The firm is committed to continuing to support the school and constantly improving our programme.

- Barry O’Brien,
Haggerston School, in Hackney, is in an area that was classified in the 2010 government deprivation indices as the second most deprived borough in England. Couple this with a youth unemployment rate in London of 25%, and it is clear that there is a need for support for young people in the area.

Freshfields’ 14-year partnership with the school aims to improve students’ aspirations, achievement and access to opportunities. It focuses primarily on helping Year 10 students and upwards gain work-related learning and employability skills. The programme includes mentoring, work experience, language partners, debating, governance and leadership support. The Freshfields partner who champions the programme, Barry O’Brien, has been the chair of Haggerston’s board of governors for many years.

The firm makes good use of its highly skilled workforce and business resources to support students by:

  • Supporting language learning by linking Haggerston with Freshfields’ Paris and Madrid offices’ partner schools.

  • Helping students develop debating skills, improving their understanding of presenting a reasoned argument and negotiating.

  • Using corporate memberships of theatres, galleries and venues to offer students access to experiences they may not otherwise have.

In 2012/13, an annual impact assessment completed by the school showed the programme had had a direct impact on 309 students and indirect impact on 800. At the same time, it gives Freshfields’ employee volunteers opportunities to develop personal and professional skills. In a 2013 survey, 90% said it had helped them develop new or existing skills, 98% said they got a sense of achievement from participating and 74% had an increased sense of wellbeing.

The programme also improves client relationships. A 2012 survey reported that 87% of clients thought the corporate social responsibility programme enhanced the reputation of the firm and 61% said that it was important when deciding whether to work with Freshfields.

- Private group -