News and Publications

Celebrating Social Mobility Day: In conversation with our CEO and announcing a partnership with upReach

Posted: 13/06/2024

We are proud to mark Social Mobility Day to continue to raise awareness around its importance in the legal sector and beyond.

Social mobility is key to our approach to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and our broader responsible business strategy. While acknowledging that there is much more to be done, we’re committed to continuing to make advances by introducing new initiatives and programmes.

We are delighted to be embarking on a partnership with social mobility charity upReach, to strengthen our commitment to providing access to careers in law to people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. upReach works with employers and universities to provide intensive coaching to undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them into top graduate jobs. This will be key in building on the firm’s range of social mobility initiatives.

Social mobility is a personal passion for our CEO Helen Drayton. As part of our social mobility awareness day celebrations, Helen sat down with Jordan Adetiba, one of our recent EMpower programme participants, to discuss the challenges of breaking into a legal career and how to overcome them. We’re pleased to share highlights of their insightful conversation.

Jordan is interested in pursuing a career in sports law and we are delighted that he will be returning to the firm to join our vacation scheme in 2025.

Helen is very proud of her own background. To read more about her story, click here.  


The partnership with upReach will strengthen Penningtons Manches Cooper’s existing A-level/college work experience programme Limitless, which offers placements in our London office to students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Students shadow our people and network with them, taking part in interactive learning sessions on how we work as a business.

The programme also supports the firm’s commitment to PRIME, a collaborative initiative with other law firms to improve access to meaningful work experience opportunities and socio-economic diversity within the legal profession.

Founded in 2012, upReach has grown from supporting 39 students to over 3,000 students across the UK, helping them to discover different career options, and develop the vital skills, networks and experiences needed to succeed in their chosen careers.

We will partner upReach by sponsoring 10 spaces for students on its programme which delivers 1-to-1 career coaching to undergraduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds. We intend for this partnership to strengthen our existing programme by providing some of our students with the opportunity to receive ongoing support throughout their higher education and to be more equipped for the working world when the time comes.

Some of the ways upReach will support the students are:

  • one-to-one individualised coaching sessions, email and telephone support;
  • preparing resource materials available online at;
  • providing workshops and networking events;
  • coordinating a mentoring programme, including with mentors from the firm; and
  • support with applications and interviews for spring weeks, internships, placements or graduate jobs including a range of online resources such as a reasoning test programme, application and CV reviews and tailored interview guidance.

Our other social mobility initiatives

Through Inspire, an education charity that connects businesses with London schools, our people take part in an annual primary school reading scheme, where they provide weekly one-to-one reading sessions to help improve children’s literacy skills. Our volunteers also get involved with secondary school enterprise days encouraging the development of young people’s business skills to prepare them for the world of work.

With support from the Social Mobility Foundation, we launched a tuition fee scholarship to support students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds throughout their undergraduate law degrees. We are currently supporting two students who have completed the first year at their respective universities. The students will also receive ongoing support from the firm, including insights, work experience and skills sessions.

In addition to our work experience programme fulfilling our PRIME commitment, our people use their volunteering hours and participate in their careers in law workshops.

EMpower programme
Our EMpower programme aims to provide meaningful work experience to individuals from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds to penultimate year law undergraduates, final year non-law undergraduates, or up to two-year post-graduate. The programme provides a unique opportunity for individuals to gain invaluable insight into the firm, develop skills relevant for a career in law and build relationships with lawyers which will continue once the scheme has finished through our mentoring programme. It has been tremendously successful, resulting in many vacation scheme placements and training contract offers with the firm. While EMpower focuses on increasing ethnic diversity, the intersectionality between race and social mobility is significant and recognised in our programme.

As a reminder, applications for our early careers opportunities, including our diversity pipeline programmes, open in October each year.

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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under number 419867.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP