Going a step further

Going a step further


Hugh Welch discusses how firms can make their pro bono work part of a wider corporate responsibility programme to benefit their local communities

At Muckle, we feel strongly that the success of the firm cannot be viewed in isolation from the broader communities in which we live and that we have a duty and obligation to help those communities.

For this reason, over the last 15 years we have developed a corporate responsibility programme, and it is our aim that our people should be encouraged and feel empowered to contribute in whatever way they may individually wish towards the different parts of our CR scheme.There are several parts to our overall CR strategy. First, there's our charitable fund. We donate 1 per cent of our annual profits to that fund, which then makes grants to local causes that are proposed by people in the firm. We have already contributed £500,000 to the fund over the years.

Secondly, we have an extensive volunteering programme to encourage everyone in the firm to take up roles as charity trustees or school governors. Over the last 12 months people from the firm helped 60 charities and provided 2,500 hours of time.

We are based in Newcastle upon Tyne and are very conscious of the challenges that young people face in this region. A few years ago we started our inspiring careers programme, under which we work with schools in disadvantaged areas of the North East to give young people an opportunity to experience life in a law firm.

We have just finished a fantastic week with eight young people from various schools in the region working with us and understanding what a career in law might entail for them.

Turning then to our pro bono work, we have enjoyed a long relationship with LawWorks and we have assisted them with every opportunity that they have put our way where there has been a request from a North East-based charity for pro bono support. Over the last 12 months we have provided pro bono work with a notional value in excess of £100,000.

In addition to referrals from LawWorks, we are now reasonably well known throughout the region for our CR programme and we therefore receive referrals from a variety of other organisations that are aware of our pro bono work.

There is a firm-wide enthusiasm for the totality of our CR programme. We recently carried out through an independent consultant some research on the firm's position in the region and how it was perceived by its corporate client base. One of the common themes to come back was that the firm's reputation in this area was well known and hugely admired. There can be little doubt that not only has the firm benefited in profile terms from the work that we have done, but we have also helped a great many people and projects who would otherwise have struggled to survive.

Hugh Welch is senior partner and leads the corporate responsibility programme at Muckle