I’ve always been interested in fundraising and volunteering, and so when I was looking for a law firm to apply to, I always looked at the opportunities for trainees to get involved in the Corporate Social Responsibility side of the firm. Bristows really stood out to me because of their active fundraising programme and their involvement in the community. At the interview stage of the application, I brought up a charity hitchhike that I had recently taken part in, which launched me into a lengthy discussion with my interviewers about the numerous charity social events, sponsored runs and volunteering opportunities taking place at the firm!
When I started at the firm we had an introductory talk on all of the different ways that we could get involved in CSR activities. There are several different interest groups focused on a wide variety of different areas from the environment to diversity to community outreach. Anyone from the firm is able to get involved, which means that joining one of these groups is a great opportunity to meet people from all across the firm – something that can really help you settle in and find your feet as a first year.
Not long after this, I approached the head of the Charities Committee, Gemma, to ask if I could be added to the mailing list – I was met with an enthusiastic ‘Yes of course!’, and was immediately invited to the next meeting. The Charities Committee organises fundraising events and helps support individual fundraising efforts, with the general aim of raising as much money as possible for that year’s chosen charity. For the last year the Charity of the Year has been Secondary 1st, which funds vital research and raises awareness of secondary breast cancer. The charity is particularly important to Bristows because it was set up at the request of Rosie Choueka, a partner at Bristows who tragically passed away from secondary breast cancer in 2014. Bristows has been actively involved in the charity ever since, and I have had the privilege of helping out at a handful of the events that have been put on to raise money.
One of the more memorable events was the “Bristows Got Fear” Halloween extravaganza – a whole day of activities from a pumpkin carving competition at lunch to a creepy cocktail party in the evening. But the highlight of the day was, without a doubt, watching two of the partners, who had been encouraged to the point of coercion by the generous donations of their colleagues, bustling around the firm in inflatable pumpkin suits. Their valiant efforts and orange-tinted faces will not be easily forgotten.
Other CSR events that I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in since starting at the firm are the Charity Christmas Jumper Day, the Christmas Carol concert, the annual trainee volunteering evening at the Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen, and the Dinner Dance raffle. And I’ve only been here for 8 months! By anyone’s standards, Bristows is certainly a firm with an active CSR calendar, which fits in with the general ethos of excelling at whatever we do, whilst maintaining a friendly and welcoming approach. Other programmes that I’d be keen to find out more about as I continue my training contract are the mentoring programme and the environment group.
Overall, I’d really encourage any future trainees to join in in this fun and important part of firm life. You’ll meet loads of new people and help raise awareness or funds for some amazing causes. So whatever your interests – be it sponsored cycling or recycling – get involved!