Herbert Smith Freehills was awarded the CareerTrackers Corporate Plus Award last night at a prestigious gala ceremony in Sydney.
The award is the highest recognition of a CareerTrackers employment partner and is given to an organisation that has made CareerTrackers an integral part of their business.
Now in its 6th year, the CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program places Indigenous university students with corporate partner organisations for 12 weeks each year to help build skills and confidence for a career in the private sector.
Herbert Smith Freehills was the first law firm to join the program in 2011 and since then has been working closely with CareerTrackers to develop a collaborative approach across the legal sector, and attract other firms to the program.
In accepting the award on behalf of the firm, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Regional Managing Partner, Asia & Australia, Sue Gilchrist, said the accolade highlighted the depth and success of the firm’s relationship with CareerTrackers.
“We are so proud of our relationship with CareerTrackers, and the many wonderful outcomes we’ve been able to achieve together.
“I’m happy to tell you that over the past five years we have enjoyed the company of 17 interns across all of our Australian offices. These experiences have helped enrich our own knowledge and culture, as well as providing opportunities for these talented students,” Ms Gilchrist said.
“A recent highlight of the program has seen us celebrate our first ever CareerTrackers intern to summer clerk conversion.
“This is just one example of how the program supports interns to develop the skills, experience and confidence to achieve their career aspirations and increase the level of Indigenous participation across the legal profession.”
Presenting the award to the firm last night, CareerTrackers board member Craig Laslett said Herbert Smith Freehills had been a “trailblazer in every sense”.
He said Herbert Smith Freehills had worked with CareerTrackers to provide law students with internships in their early years of study, instead of only in their final year, and this allowed students to gain the skills, networks and confidence to reach clerkship and graduate programs.
“Not only did Herbert Smith Freehills begin employing first year law students, they took the initiative to host various functions and meetings to help bring on other law firms. As a direct result of their leadership, 63 law students have obtained internships at some of Australia’s leading law firms,” Mr Laslett said.
Herbert Smith Freehills has made a 10 year commitment to the CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship program, one of 10 organisations to do so, alongside a number of high profile corporate clients, including CPB Contractors, Westpac, IAG, Lendlease, CBA and Qantas.
Brooke Massender, Herbert Smith Freehills’ Head of Pro Bono & Citizenship, Australia & Asia, and Pro Bono Counsel, said the firm’s relationship with CareerTrackers was an important part of the firm’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
“CareerTrackers is one of our RAP’s core leadership initiatives and includes Herbert Smith Freehills being the organisation’s primary provider of pro bono legal services, hosting interns, and providing organisational capacity building within CareerTrackers. It’s an incredibly rewarding and enriching relationship, for both parties,” Ms Massender said.
Herbert Smith Freehills launched its first RAP in 2011, and subsequently launched an ‘Elevate’ RAP in 2015, becoming the first and only firm to achieve the highest endorsement from Reconciliation Australia.
CareerTrackers is a national non-profit organisation that creates internship opportunities for Indigenous university students. Leveraging the 45-year legacy of the INROADS African-American internship program in the United States, CareerTrackers has adapted this model to address Indigenous disadvantage throughout Australia.
CareerTrackers supports pre-professional Indigenous university students and links them with private sector employers to participate in paid multi-year internships. Students perform their internship with a sponsoring company with the aim of converting from intern into full-time employee upon completion of their university degree.
In addition to making long-lasting placements CareerTrackers provides a wide spectrum of support to help prepare students for leadership in the workplace and the community.