“I am five years PQE and think some governance experience would be good for me. My firm (mid-size City) is open to the idea of allowing me the flexibility to be a school governor, but I need to make the business case. Can you advise?”
Louise Cooper, CEO, SGOSS – Governors for Schools
Schools will benefit greatly from the legal experience that you will bring, as well your approach. School governors have three main roles; 1) setting the strategy and ethos of the school, 2) holding the head teacher to account for educational outcomes of children, and 3) ensuring financial accountability.
To make the business case to your firm, you will need to be clear about the benefits.
Benefits for the firm:
- Improves the education of children through effective school governance, which is one of the best ways to ensure that the UK has a skilled and employable workforce.
- Builds the capability of an employee, who understands the local context that the firm operates in, and can discuss real world issues knowledgably with clients who will be facing the same challenges.
- Helps to retain “Millennial” employees who often consider the social responsibility of their employer to be as important as their services.
Benefits for you:
- Learn the skills of being on a board, which lays the foundations for Management and Non-Executive Director roles later in your career.
- Use your legal skills to support schools to become more effective, gaining personal and professional satisfaction from doing so.
Be clear about the time commitment, which is 6-8 hours a month during term time. While much of the reading can be done at any time, for meetings you will need to be in school by 6 or 7pm. Make sure your colleagues are aware of these dates in advance.
Tell your firm about the simple things they can do to support you and other fellow governors. As well as the flexibility to attend meetings, promote opportunities through internal communications and facilitate presentations.
Anne Coles, Kemsley Law
The additional benefit for the firm is the increased profile this gives the individual. I took on two school governorships whilst in practice and the wider connections this gave me did result in new client introductions to my firm. Sometimes it’s slow but in the end if a board of governors come to respect you for your judgement and knowledge as demonstrated whilst governing they will recommend you when asked by others and this can lead to work referrals which are not in any way conflicted.
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