CSR is genuinely central to our ethos. We do not merely pay “lip service” to the principles that CSR embodies, but try to ensure that it guides our every decision and course of dealing; from how we deal with staff and clients, to how we engage with the wider community.
We are one of only a few law firms to establish a separate foundation into which partners donate an annual sum to support charities and not-for-profit projects.
But our CSR programme extends further than this. We’ve got our hands dirty, been dragons and mentors, shared our experiences and used our expertise to support new businesses and not-for-profit ventures.
But you do not have to take our word for it; our actions speak louder than our words.
As a firm of like-minded individuals who strive to maintain the family feel of our firm (despite our increasing size) we are tireless in our commitment to CSR. We recently involved family and friends in our firm wide “long walk to work”. On a warm Saturday we embarked on a 20 mile walk down the Thames Path from Shillingford to Reading to raise over £15k for local mental health charity Riverside Counselling Service.
We entered a team into the Sue Ryder “Out of Office Challenge” – and won it – raising money and profile in the process for the local hospices that form part of this national charity. We are also a repeat sponsor of the Sue Ryder, Southern Women of Achievement Awards. Other local events we have sponsored include: the Reading Sports Awards; the Goring 10k run; and the Coach of the Year Award at the Get Berkshire Active Awards.
But we don’t just leave it to others to do the physical work. We took part in the Green Park Triathlon for Red Nose Day; we did the Reading Legal Walk to raise funds for free legal advice services in Reading; we dressed up to compete in the Launchpad Pancake Race (and won); and we got even more dressed up to join in with the Reading Santa Race to raise funds for the Rotary Club.
We have mucked in with gardening and groundwork for local charities Thrive and Camp Mohawk; and we got the tools out to help a team from the National Citizen Service (“NCS”) build raised flower beds for a state-funded retirement home. We have helped in Comic Relief call centres and each year some of our partners play the role of dragons in a Dragons Den event for the NCS Challenge programme.
There is a more professional side to our CSR programme as well. Our Banking and Finance Partner is a volunteer director at the Berkshire Credit Union. We have provided advice and assistance to the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) on ad hoc legal issues, and the CSR Partner is a non-executive director and program lead for SMEs on the TVB LEP board, as well as performing the role of chairperson of the Nominations and Governance Committee, and sitting on the Funding Escalator Steering Group and the Business Growth Hub Committee.
We give presentations at the University of Reading and for the NCS on working in the legal profession, CV writing and interview skills. We also provide mentors for the College of Law and do interview training in local schools through the Central Berkshire Education Partnership. We were one of the first law firms in Reading to commit to providing work experience placements for 16 year olds from less privileged backgrounds through the Reading Cluster of the Legal Social Mobility Programme (alongside partners such as Microsoft, Veritas, Verizon, Telefonica, O2, Olswang and Boyes Turner).
And sometimes we do some legal fee earning work…