Enhancing our communities

Key topic: Social impact

As an employer of more than 1,000 people across the UK, we aim to make a meaningful social impact both within our organisation and in the communities where we operate. We recognise our vital role in widening access to the legal profession and positively impacting our local communities through our recruitment, business practices and external community activities.

Key achievements

Creating sustainable relationships with local communities – We have a long-standing commitment to supporting our local communities through our pro bono programme and the Birketts Charitable Fund.

Pro bono – Many of our people give large amounts of their time to help people and organisations who would not otherwise be able to afford legal advice. We are involved in law clinics and centres across London and East Anglia, providing advice on a range of topics including family law, employment, and property law.

Our regular pro bono commitments include:

  • Suffolk Law Centre – managed by two of our second-year trainees, a pool of volunteers provide thirty minute appointments to people who approach the Centre needing legal advice, usually on housing, family law or employment matters.
  • LandAid – Cambridge-based Legal Director, Sophie Thornley, is on the Eastern Region board of this charity run by professionals in the property sector. All requests for pro bono property advice in the region come to her for distribution to appropriate professionals. Birketts takes on these cases where we have the relevant skills.
  • Norfolk ProHelp – Birketts is part of this network of professional businesses in Norfolk.  We are notified of specific projects where pro bono legal advice is required, and the co-ordinator in our Norfolk office then finds an appropriate lawyer to give advice and support to that project.
  • East Greenwich Legal Advice Clinic (EGLAC) – EGLAC is a free legal advice and assistance service available to persons resident or based in a South East London postcode. Their vision is of a society in which everyone has equal access to quality legal advice regardless of income or background. Birketts colleagues volunteer support to the clinic through in-person clinic sessions or by telephone or Zoom.
  • We have also held a legal advice clinic for the charity Lighthouse Women’s Aid. Having seen how well it was received, we have recently set up another clinic for Compassion. Both charities support women, young people and children who are affected by domestic abuse.

Charitable giving – Launched in 2006, the Birketts Charitable Fund is administered by the Community Foundations in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and the East End of London. We do this so our funds generate income, which each office can then use to donate to various charities recommended by their local foundation; in the previous financial year (2022/2023), we distributed £67,120 to charitable causes, which has had significant social impact in our local communities.

In addition to the funds that are disbursed by the Community Foundations, we encourage our people to support cross-firm charitable fund-raising initiatives. In 2023, our cross-firm charitable fund-raising initiatives will include the Cumbrian Challenge in aid of Walking for the Wounded and the Great Birketts’ Sleep Out in aid of charities working to tackle homelessness. 

At the local office level, each office has a Charities Committee, which is responsible for nominating a local charity of charities of the year and organising fundraising activities in support of these charities as appropriate.

Inspiring our people to share their time and skills – We expect our people, where possible, to take an active involvement in projects benefiting the community in which we live and work. Members of the firm at all levels play an active role in the running or operation of a large number of local charitable and voluntary organisations. Our people are allowed time off work to enable them to carry out work in support of their chosen charities and are encouraged to engage with local communities and groups for mutual benefit.

We seek suggestions for social impact projects from all quarters and particularly from people within the firm. We will consider any scheme which we believe will give a tangible benefit and which is safe and appropriately structured. 

Under our CSR Day programme, all employees are entitled to take one day per calendar year to undertake a community project, and involvement in these activities is regarded as a positive factor in performance review and career progression. 

Related policies and documents

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