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Smart Start

Available across the UK
Northern Ireland
England - North East
England - North West
England - Yorkshire & Humber
England - West Midlands
England - East Midlands
England - South West
England - South East
England - East
England - Greater London
Available internationally
Czech Republic
South Africa
0 - 4
4 - 7
7 - 11
11 -16
16 - 18
18 - 21
21 -25
25 - 30
30 - 35
In person
Online & in person
In person
Through a school or college
Through an organisation
Independently / Self-serve
ListeningSpeakingProblem SolvingCreativityStaying PositiveAiming HighLeadershipTeamwork
Impact Level 2Impact Level 1Impact Level 3Impact Level 4

Allen & Overy launched the Smart Start Experience in 2009 with the aim of giving young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds access to high-quality work experience in the world of business.

Since its launch, the Smart Start Experience has supported over 1,569 young people. As the recipient of many prestigious awards, the Smart Start Experience was the first work experience scheme in the legal sector to have its programme Assured by City & Guilds.

Through a timetable of interactive workshops and team challenges, Smart Start allows young people to develop the skills necessary to succeed in education and the world of work. They develop knowledge of the main City job sectors, potential career opportunities and the importance of commercial awareness. They learn how to apply the eight Skills Builder essential skills: Listening, Speaking, Problem Solving, Creativity, Staying Positive, Aiming High, Leadership and Teamwork.

Students will have the opportunity to practise these essential skills at the Getting started, Intermediate and Advanced Stages of the Skills Builder Universal Framework, and assess progress at the end of the week.

A few reflections from Smart Start's 2021 participants:

  • "I am now able to take a scenario and look at it from different perspectives. By doing this, I have learnt how to engage in debates, and find a complete solution to a problem by building on different perspectives. I especially used my problem solving skills in the 'day in the life' task, when given difficult decisions."
  • "We were put into groups in order to solve and find solutions to real life workplace scenarios. My Problem Solving skill enhanced here as all students and peers engaged with the activity in all different perspectives and ways. Most importantly, we were able to hear the views of Allen & Overy staff and how they would have dealt with the problems, as a qualified professional in their sector."

Allen & Overy has developed Smart Start over the years to include an e-mentoring programme, and on-going support through university, and they provide scholarships to some students to help with the costs of university.

In 2021 Allen & Overy partnered with Causeway Education to adapt the Smart Start Experience for online delivery. To find out more contact or

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