King & Wood Mallesons Social Mobility Programs

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As part of King & Wood Mallesons’ commitment to making a positive impact in the communities in which they live, work and operate, the firm has established three social mobility programs, Waiwa Mudena, the KWM First Nations Fellowship and the KWM School of Opportunity, engaging up to 30 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students and young people experiencing disadvantage each year.  . These work experience and professional development programs help enhance students’ personal and professional skills, whilst building their networks through mentoring, training and varied career insights experiences.

As found in DCA’s Class at Work research, people from self-identified lower classes experience more exclusion, discrimination and harassment at work than people from higher classes. By creating opportunities to be exposed to workplace culture, social mobility programs are an important step organisations can take to address social inequalities which will impact students in their studies and their journey into the workplace.

KWM School of Opportunity

The KWM School of Opportunity is a King & Wood Mallesons initiative, delivered in collaboration with The Smith Family, ANZ and Transurban that provides training and employment opportunities for young people. The 30 day paid program is open to tertiary students supported on The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program.  In addition to gaining practical, hands-on experience in KWM Shared Services and Support teams, each KWM School of Opportunity student gets a supervisor, a buddy and a mentor and participates in a range of career insights seminars and workshops to develop key skills for future employment.

On completion of the program, KWM School of Opportunity students become part of the KWM Community Impact Alumni Network, into which career-related opportunities arising within KWM’s ecosystem are fed.

Waiwa Mudena

Waiwa Mudena is KWM’s flexible and immersive work placement and professional skills development program, co-designed with and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander law students. Aiming to connect First Nations law students with examples of the various pathways available in the legal profession, the 30 day paid program helps prepare aspiring lawyers and aims to contribute towards increased representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout the legal sector.

The program includes; practical on the job training in KWM legal teams, a mentor and buddy, participation in industry-specific training and workshops, and networking and shadowing experiences with in-house corporate legal teams of KWM clients. Waiwa Mudena cadets also partake in optional secondment experiences with community legal centres, Aboriginal legal services, government-related justice agencies, government departments and barristers and become part of the KWM Community Impact Alumni Network.

This initiative is a step towards addressing the longstanding exclusion Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have experienced from Australian legal systems, which has contributed to the harm that legal systems have caused First Nations peoples.

Waiwa Mudena is a phrase in the language of the grandmother of the artist whose artwork is reflected in the program logo, Robby Wirramanda. Robby uses the phrase to mean “to rise up and go after”.

First Nations Fellowship

KWM’s First Nations Fellowship is another important milestone in KWM’s journey towards better reconciliation with and meaningful support for First Nations peoples.  The Fellowship supports up to ten aspiring First Nations legal practitioners each year through their first year of law. Key Fellowship components are financial, mentoring and networking support. The professional connections made over the course of the Fellowship are intended to remain a continued source of support for our Fellows for the remainder of their law studies and well into their legal careers. The Fellowship aims to contribute towards increased participation of First Nations people within the legal profession.

Fellows get to network with an esteemed array of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander professionals from across the legal sector.  KWM is honoured to have His Honour Judge Nathan Jarro, Magistrate Louise Taylor, Professor Megan Davis, Mr Tony McAvoy QC, Ms  Melia Benn, Ms Pricilla Atkins and Mr Lawrence Moser as inaugural Fellowship Ambassadors.

KWM also commissioned senior artist, Ben Ward, to design a logo for its Fellowship. Mr Ward's work represents two laws - both Indigenous law and non-Indigenous law. The central motif represents leaders from both groups coming together "to ensure the law is carried out." Mr Ward says: "my drawing is about two systems coming together so that we can work together.”

For further information about KWM’s social mobility offering, please contact Megan.Barnett-Smith@au.kwm.com 

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