Category: Corporate Responsibility (CSR) Subcategory: Giving to the Community Award won: Professional Services sector
Speechly Bircham is a full-service law firm, headquartered in London. We work with business and private clients across the UK and internationally, focusing on financial services, private wealth, technology, real estate and construction sectors.
Life Matters was derived from our relationship with Blackfriars Settlement and a desire to give targeted support to its elderly group. We wanted to develop a project that supported the elderly and provided them with awareness of relevant legal issues whilst also benefiting our staff. The result is a truly reciprocal relationship. Each person who attends takes away something that supports them in the future.
Education is seen as the dominion of the young, however, the elderly are also in need of re-skilling so that they can cope with later stages of life. Life Matters equips the group with the skills and knowledge needed to face the legal issues that relate to older generations.
The relationship between Blackfriars and Speechlys is not a matter of financial donations and ad hoc assistance, but rather the creation of a sense of community. The trainees at Speechlys share their time, legal knowledge and company to create a genuine relationship with the elderly of Blackfriars.
Projects that both educate and entertain the elderly on legal topics are rare. Life Matters empowers the elderly by giving them the skills to cope with the complex issues they face. Often the topics we cover are challenging and it is up to the trainees to present the subjects in a light-hearted and informative manner, using skits, characters and role plays.
In addition to providing valuable information on wills, probate, grants, doorstep selling, phishing scams and the like, our trainees are able to practice soft skills of self-projection and plain language presentation of the law to a non legal audience.[/one_half_last]
A lack of awareness among Speechlys’ Partners of the benefits of the Life Matters project was affecting the trainees’ ability to participate and take time away from client work. We realised that we needed to increase visibility of our CSR programme throughout the firm, and specifically of Life Matters. This has involved presentations on the CSR programme as a whole and invitations to social activities with the elderly at Blackfriars such as a quiz night attended by the elderly group, the trainees and their supervisors, and participation by the Blackfriars’ elderly group choir in the firm’s annual carol concert.
Our presentations are always fully subscribed and there is a request list of topics for future sessions. The elderly do not often get the opportunity to discuss legal matters and after the presentation they enjoy informal conversations with our trainees, to help them address any concerns.
These sessions help our young lawyers develop an understanding of how their legal knowledge can assist people in real life situations. They also gain an appreciation of the importance of getting involved with the local community in a positive way and understanding that CSR isn’t just about financial donations, it’s about investing time.[/one_half_last]