‘A fantastic initiative’ – senior figures welcome launch of volunteering scheme for business ops teams

Fifth Day taps into employees’ desire for sense of purpose by providing pro bono-style clearing house
Close up of Fred Banning

Fred Banning

A leading figure in the UK’s law firm PR community has launched an initiative to provide volunteering opportunities for legal business operations staff equivalent to those already widely available to lawyers. 
  
Not-for-profit venture Fifth Day is being spearheaded by Fred Banning, a former head of communications at Pinsent Masons, and is targeted at an estimated 30,000 staff working in the legal sector. 
  
It sets out to connect professionals in areas including IT services, finance, human resources, and business development, marketing and communications with charities and community groups seeking assistance, including in trustee and project leadership roles.  
  
Law firms are encouraged to supplement their own CSR initiatives by joining as corporate members via Fifth Day’s website, which has been developed by TBD Marketing alongside Fifth Day's partnership with skills-based charity Reach Volunteering. 
  
The initiative emulates the service provided by pro bono charities LawWorks – which supports and develops pro bono opportunities for solicitors ­– and Advocate, which performs a similar function for barristers. 
  
Supporting Banning, who took medical retirement in 2020, is an experienced advisory board, which comprises Jeremy Ford, Skadden’s European head of marketing, David Halliwell, head of client engagement at Pinsents, Nicola Sawford, former CEO of Serle Court Chambers, and Moira Slape, chief people officer at Travers Smith. 
  
 “I was effectively forced by circumstances to finish work in 2020 after a terminal cancer diagnosis,” said Banning. “One of my great regrets was that, while I derived a huge amount of satisfaction from my career, I wished I had done more to use my skills and experience to benefit others.“ 
  
He said the initiative would tap into a growing desire by employees fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic to “re-evaluate what they want from their lives and careers” and noted how law firms were responding to this desire for greater purpose. 
  
He added: “There is a recognition that pro bono enriches the lives of lawyers and the culture of many law firms; I’d love to see that same ethos permeate business operations teams.” 
  
Supporters of the initiative include Vanessa Montero, global head of communications at Hogan Lovells, Gary Jones, director of business services recruitment agency Totum Partners, and Michael Evans, a director at communications consultancy Byfield. 
  
 “This is a fantastic initiative to leverage some of the highly sought-after skills of business services professionals who work in one of the most challenging sectors in the market,” said Montero. 
  
Jones added: “Like all the best ideas you wonder why someone hadn’t thought of it before as it immediately chimed in terms of relevance and timing to so many people.”  
  
Evans concluded: “Frankly, I think every firm that cares about enabling its people to give something back to society should sign up immediately.”

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