A leading north east law firm, Short Richardson & Forth LLP (SRF) has awarded 28 year old Northumbria University Law School student Stephen Bennett with an internship at the firm for the best performing student in employment law. The award, which also comes with a cash prize, was awarded to Stephen for his dissertation, the focus of which was how far English law provides protection to people undertaking work through employment agencies.
Stephen Bennett from Stanley, County Durham said “The motivation behind my dissertation was mostly owing to my personal experiences of having started my working life working for a local authority through an agency. During the 7 months I worked there it was never entirely clear exactly who I was working for. I wasn’t working for the council and I wasn’t exactly working for the agency either.”
He continued “Coupled with media reports of poor treatment of agency workers by Sports Direct I decided this would be a good dissertation question. My research sought to address the definition of an agency worker and how they are distinct from employees. Employees are afforded maximum workplace protection, notably the right to sue your employer for unfair dismissal should the need arise. For agency workers no such right exists and my research sought to understand why.”
Stephen Bennett concluded “I started as a grounds maintenance worker for Durham County Council before doing an access course 2 evenings a week in order to go on and do my degree. I feel extremely proud of the journey I have taken, gaining a first class honours degree and I am looking forward to my time with Short Richardson & Forth.”
The Short Richardson & Forth LLP Award for the highest marks in a final year dissertation on an employment law related subject has been run in conjunction with Northumbria University Legal Faculty for seven years. The award has promoted strong links between students and the law firm in the City. The award was first made in 2009 to Alex Withers who went on to gain a training contract with the firm. On qualification she was then offered a full time position and has recently become an associate with a growing reputation in dispute resolution. Tim Berg, Partner at Short Richardson & Forth LLP said “This is the seventh year of our award: we were particularly impressed by Stephen’s willingness to cover a difficult and contentious subject in his dissertation. Stephen’s success, both with his dissertation and with his degree, is a testament to both the quality of teaching at Northumbria and Stephen’s own drive and application. Stephen’s successful future in the profession looks assured.”
Doctor Michael Stockdale, Head of Department at Northumbria Law School, said: “Northumbria Law School greatly values its relationship with Short Richardson and Forth. An Internship with such a high quality Law Firm will be a fantastic experience for Stephen and will greatly enhance his legal and transferable skills.”