Sir Nigel Knowles, Joint CEO and Managing Partner of the world’s largest law firm by revenue DLA Piper, has highlighted the firm’s special relationship with The College of Law in a podcast published today.
In an interview recorded as part of Inside Track, the College’s regular series of podcasts with leading members of the legal profession, Sir Nigel commends the quality of training provided by the College to many of their future trainees.
"We are always very impressed by the quality of trainees who come to us having studied at The College of Law," said Sir Nigel. “They have a real appreciation of how to deliver commercially focused advice to clients and how to apply the law in a business context.
The geographical spread of the College offers many of those we recruit the opportunity to study in the location where they have chosen to practise."
In the podcast Sir Nigel also emphasises the importance of the innovative Pathways to Law project which was established in 2007 by The College of Law and The Sutton Trust to widen access to the legal profession.
DLA Piper was one of the founding supporters of the £1.5M scheme, which aims to provide opportunities to A-level students from state schools in England, who are interested in a law career and will be the first generation of their family to attend university.
The students attend lectures and seminars held by the five partner universities, Leeds, LSE, Manchester, Southampton and Warwick, as well as at regional centres of The College of Law, and undertake a placement in a law firm, such as DLA Piper.
"DLA Piper is firmly committed to broadening diversity within the profession and is very pleased to be part of this important and worthwhile initiative," said Sir Nigel. “The profession as a whole has an obligation to reach out to talented students regardless of their background.
“Pathways to Law offers students the chance to gain first hand experience of the profession and a real understanding of what a career within it has to offer them. By promoting the sector to this wider talent pool, diversity within the profession will increase and ultimately should reflect the society in which it operates."
As the son of a grocer from Stocksbridge, a steel town in South Yorkshire, Sir Nigel himself came from a very different background from many of the men and women in City firms, at the Bar or in the senior judiciary.
Nigel Savage, Chief Executive of The College of Law, said: “The College has a long-standing relationship with DLA Piper and we are delighted to receive such a ringing endorsement of both the quality of our training and our work to increase diversity in the profession."
Sir Nigel has been managing partner of DLA Piper since 1996 and he describes in the interview how, in that time, he has led its growth from a regional UK law firm to what is now the world's largest international legal practice, with a global turnover in excess of £1bn.
He also talks about the qualities his firm looks for in young lawyers and the opportunities for the lawyers of the future as well as the challenges heralded by the emergence of alternative business structures and the implementation of the Legal Services Act 2007.
The podcast went live on the College’s website today (Monday, October 19).