Olswang Business Experience
To fulfil the PRIME commitment Olswang has created the Olswang Business Experience ("OBE"). The OBE is a structured work experience programme providing students from our community partner schools with an insight into the range of careers available to them.
Our first OBE took place in early July 2012 and the cohort was made up of five fifteen year old students from Haverstock School in London. During the OBE, students took part in a series of workshops, lectures, external visits and shadowing legal and business services departmental work.
To help develop the skills necessary to succeed in their future careers, the OBE programme was designed to improve five key skills for the students: punctuality, enthusiasm, team working, communication and professionalism. Working alongside the in-house legal team at Microsoft, we developed a half-day programme for the OBE students that would develop their skills and give them a different perspective of practising law and working for a business. The morning focused on two sessions:
Session one - "In the Hot Seat"
The students and Microsoft legal team were given 5 minutes to gather relevant information about each other's backgrounds and report their findings back to the group. In doing so, the students gained insight into the various career paths each team member took, discovered similarities between themselves and the professionals and exercised and improved upon their interview and communication skills.
"We thought it would be serious and formal, but having the interviews broke down the communication barrier, which allowed all of us to have discussions and give our point of view." OBE student
“A great way to get to know this diverse and talented group of students quickly.” Microsoft UK legal team member
Session two - "The IP Onion"
IP law is vitally important to a business and this session introduced students to basic IP law.
By depicting IP law as an onion, the students peeled back the different layers of IP law to reach a core understanding of the subject. In doing so, the workshop enabled the students to work together as a team to understand a complex area of law. The students also debated the issue of online piracy which gave them the opportunity to voice their often quite strong opinions and enhance further their confidence and communication skills. It also gave the Microsoft Legal team valuable insight.
"We are now aware that intellectual property law affects all products and devices from software and music to movies and chocolate!" OBE student
“A bright fifteen year-old student’s interpretation of IP law—brilliant!” Microsoft UK legal team member
Working with Microsoft enhanced the student's OBE experience and helped them develop key skills. 100% of the students felt that the sessions with Microsoft were either "extremely useful", "very useful" or "useful" in developing, punctuality, enthusiasm, communication and professional manner.
"We really enjoyed the experience at Microsoft because it was a building that we would never get to go to. They welcomed us like we worked there. We were able to talk to the employees that work within Microsoft and learn about what they do, how they work with Olswang and how team work is crucial!" OBE student
The strongest endorsement we received from the collaboration, was from one student, who when asked how the Microsoft session could be improved simply responded "Make it the whole day!"
Microsoft’s global legal team is committed to building a more diverse and inclusive legal profession. Olswang’s commitment to PRIME through its OBE program was the perfect opportunity for four of Microsoft UK’s legal team members to contribute to this corporate goal.
“A diverse range of individuals contributing to the legal profession is critical. Collaborating with Olswang on its high-quality OBE programme allowed us to leverage our small team while contributing to our department’s overall goal of creating a more diverse and inclusive legal profession. We look forward to evolving and expanding our contributions going forward." Patricia W. Christias, Senior Attorney, UK Commercial Lead, Legal & Corporate Affairs, Microsoft Limited.