Posted on 14th May 2021 — Lucy Robertson
Action Tutoring is a charity that helps young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds achieve higher levels of academic attainment. Only 51% of pupils from low income backgrounds meet expected grades in reading, writing and maths, and this attainment gap has only worsened as a result of the pandemic. Therefore, when the third lockdown was announced and schools were closed again, I wanted to do something to help the children who would be most affected. I found Action Tutoring through an online search, and the more I read around the issue, the more I felt that it was an important initiative to be involved with.
I spoke to my then-supervisor when I first applied, as it was my first seat and I was unsure how the firm treated external volunteering; however, I was strongly encouraged to move forward with my application and keep the team updated with my progress. I initially chose a class time of 8 – 9am so that it would not intrude on working hours, but my supervisor ensured that I knew there was a CSR/volunteering time code which I should use if ever I had a session, or needed to prepare, during working hours. It was really encouraging to know that there was no pressure from the department to keep the volunteering time separate from the working day.
After a few weeks of tutoring, I saw that the weekly CSR newsletter featured Action Tutoring as a potential volunteering option, and so I reached out to Susanna Winter (the firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager) to let her know that I was already a tutor with the programme. We decided to promote the initiative with a Q&A video which was then shared on the newsletter. I was joined in the Q&A by an Associate, and it was lovely to be able to share our experiences, and discuss how we had seen our tutees improve – and also how much fun we were having taking a break from work to play primary school games!
Following the Q&A, other Trainee Solicitors and Associates started to message me letting me know they had joined the Baker’s Action Tutoring team, which was also a great way to meet colleagues in other departments and at different levels – especially when working from home. It also showed that Baker’s people are not only encouraged at an individual level to pursue volunteering opportunities, but are also supported in a team setting.
Throughout the process I have realised that the firm really is committed to CSR initiatives, and creating a positive and collaborative working environment. We are supported to develop as Trainee Solicitors not only within our departments, but also as individuals who can bring forward and pursue independent opportunities, and are encouraged to balance these alongside work.
Lucy Robertson, second-seat Trainee Solicitor at Baker McKenzie.