Career skills for life: RES courts inaugural legal internship programme
by RES | Feb 08, 2024 | Reading time: 3 min
At RES, we aim to provide an inclusive environment for all our people. We strive to create a culture where everyone has access to fairness, inclusion, and opportunities, regardless of background.
As part of this work, an inaugural legal internship programme was launched, designed to encourage social mobility in the legal profession. Interns joining the programme benefit from tuition, guidance, and the practical experience of working within our busy Glasgow office in Scotland – shadowing legal team members and undertaking a variety of research and legal tasks – as well as spending time at external panel law firms.
Donna McFarlane, whose passion led her to champion the programme as part of her role as RES’ UK&I Legal Director, highlights that a key goal of the programme is to “attract high quality students with talent and further potential who otherwise may not have had the opportunity.”
She continues: “It is well documented that those from backgrounds which are traditionally less represented within the legal sector often take longer to progress and be promoted. We must be proactive in driving change.”
An inclusive recruitment process was devised that focused on applicants’ potential rather than background. This included using a short application form rather than requiring cover letters to reduce the potential for unconscious bias and encourage more candidates to apply.
After an encouragingly positive response to the programme and careful consideration of every application, RES invited two law students from local universities to take part in the three-week legal placement. Across the three weeks, the interns were equipped with a ‘buddy,’ who as an existing member of the legal team was able to support the new starters from the offset. A substantial portion of the placement involved extensive training in the legal aspects of renewable energy, with the opportunity to review and draft contracts and participate in calls with colleagues from various industries and even overseas.
Some of the feedback collated from the interns included their enthusiasm for gaining increased knowledge around legal, planning and development aspects as well as the realisation of the numerous contracts and legal agreements which must be executed to complete projects. One intern commented on how they had never realised the tangible link between legal practice and renewable energy. Arguably, one of the most significant elements of the placement involved the interns receiving invaluable guidance on how to improve their personal CV, applying for future jobs and tips for interview preparation from RES’ accomplished and experienced legal team.
Working from the hub of the Glasgow located office, where RES’ 24/7/365 global Control Centre is also based, provided the interns further chance to interact with people in RES’ various departments to learn more about their roles.
Reflecting on the success of the programme, Paula Murphy, RES’ Chief Sustainability, Marketing & Communications Officer said: “It is wonderful to see the legal team set up this important initiative. Social mobility is about creating equality of opportunity for people regardless of their background. By positively influencing social mobility we can help contribute to a future where everyone has the ability to achieve their full potential.”
Malcolm Combe, Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Strathclyde reflected on the internship: “Strathclyde Law School prides itself in being committed to social justice whilst also being a place of useful learning. When the prospect of this innovative internship was first raised, we were determined to make this work for RES, for Strathclyde, and (most importantly) our student community. It has been great to hear how successful this first internship proved to be, and we look forward to the scheme benefiting more students in the future.
Nicola Sutherland, Senior Careers and Employability Consultant, Careers and Employability Service, University of Strathclyde added: “I was delighted to support RES with the creation of their legal internship. This internship is in line with their aim to value and respect a diverse workforce. They fully recognised that students may experience differing needs and barriers in being able to access legal work experience. The team were open and responsive to suggestions on how to ensure the recruitment process and internship was as accessible as possible to the diverse student community.”
The Legal Team at RES are currently busy working with our partner universities on our 2024 internship intake.
Find out more about the other internships that RES offers here.