MinterEllison and Glenala State High School – an evolving partnership and full circle story

A bond that began back in 2005, the partnership between MinterEllison and Glenala State High School in Queensland has produced some incredible outcomes and inspirational stories.

Rob and Kim

One such story is that of former student, Lee Vo. Only six years old when he arrived in Australia from Vietnam, neither Lee, nor his mother, spoke a word of English. Two years later, he had topped his Year 3 class in English but by the time he got to high school, Lee admits things had started to slide. After participating in ABCN’s RISE, Aspirations and Career Choice Day programs, however, he then successfully applied for a MinterEllison scholarship and work experience program. By Year 12 he was Dux of the school.

‘To be honest I was starting to muck around in school a bit in high school and I wasn’t taking it seriously. Being mentored in Aspirations and the work experience at Minters really helped me determine my career path in law’.

Glenala SHS is typical of many of ABCN’s schools. A high-needs school in one of Brisbane’s most disadvantaged areas, generational unemployment, poverty, domestic violence and non-English speaking backgrounds are common issues. Consequently many students start high school with lower than average literacy and numeracy skills. The disadvantage they face means fundamental support is needed to help them achieve their potential.

As part of the firm’s national Community Investment Program, MinterEllison staff voted unanimously to support disadvantaged youth from lower socio-economic areas. In Brisbane, conversations began with Glenala in 2005 before joining ABCN in 2007, providing structure and format through mentoring programs, which would consolidate the evolving relationship.

Ten years on, MinterEllison and Glenala continue to work closely together in a Partners in Learning (PiL) relationship that both parties proudly agree is a cornerstone of school and company culture. Amongst other initiatives, a MinterEllison scholarship program for promising Year 10 students has been established – of which Lee Vo was a recipient.

Now in his fourth year of an Arts Law degree at Griffith University, Lee has also worked part-time at MinterEllison over the years, which enabled him to volunteer for ABCN’s RISE program at his former school – this time as a mentor – an opportunity he was proud to take up. He will return to MinterEllison in November 2015 to take up a coveted vacation clerkship position.

‘I often think back to where I started’, says Lee. ‘How did the boy with no English get to where I am today? I’m so grateful for the opportunities – to the teachers who believed in me, my mentors and my mum – who all instilled the value of education.’

We’d like to acknowledge all the representatives from MinterEllison and Glenala, past and present, who have contributed over the years to a partnership that is making an enormous difference.

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