A&L Goodbody: Engaging our staff to address the issue of literacy

Business in the Community IrelandYear:



Company Description

A&L Goodbody is internationally recognised as one of Ireland’s leading law firms. The Firm advises both domestic and international clients across every facet of business law.


Business Issue

Attracting and retaining our employees is very important to A&L Goodbody as it is our people who make us stand out from our competitors.  One way of achieving this is through using the knowledge and skills of our people to impact positively on the communities they live in.  As we are located in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Dublin’s inner city, we want to support and make a difference to an important social issue relevant to the local community.


With studies showing that in some disadvantaged schools, almost 1 in 3 children have a serious difficulty with reading, we decided to support the social and educational issue of the underachievement of literacy.  Furthermore:


  • Strong literacy skills are relevant to our employees’ work, life and culture.
  • Our physical location in the community of Dublin provides insight and access which allows us to address these problems.
  • With a workforce of 570, we have significant opportunities to make available our support and resources to directly help young people in our community to improve their literacy skills.


To support us to achieve our objective, we have partnered with Suas (www.suas.ie) to deliver proven literacy programmes in local schools through the Suas Literacy Support Programme.


Solution Applied

A pilot project was conducted in April 2012, during which Suas trained 11 A&L Goodbody mentors to work with school children from St Vincent’s Girls School in Dublin, utilising a proven computer based literacy intervention called AcceleRead  AcceleWrite.   Following evaluation, 8 of the 11 participants displayed increased reading ability and confidence.


In January 2013, arising from the success of the pilot, A&L Goodbody announced a 3 year partnership with the Suas Literacy Support Programme.  This initiative will be the flagship project of our Community Programme called Step Up, through the:

  • Recruitment and facilitation of A&L Goodbody employees as literacy mentors to support local school children participating in Literacy Support Projects.
  • Provision of pro bono counsel for Suas in respect of their corporate affairs.
  • Annual funding of €45,000 to support Suas in delivering their Literacy Support Programme nationally.


Over the course of the partnership, through funding, volunteering and pro bono counsel, A&L Goodbody will support 3,000 young people to achieve better literacy, both directly in our immediate community in Dublin and in our broader community in projects across Ireland.


Company Benefits

Since launching our literacy support programme in 2012, each request for mentors has been over-subscribed for volunteers showing an appetite from employees to make a difference in our local community.  To date over, 60 employees have mentored 60 students from two local schools.  Feedback from 100% of mentors was that they would recommend the programme to a colleague.   According to Sinéad Lynch, an A&L Goodbody volunteer with the programme,


“What a great initiative.  I looked forward to it every week!  There is something very satisfying about seeing how much the kids enjoyed and thrived on this programme and I think we all did too.  I now realise the big impact that a simple effort can make.”


Stakeholder Benefits

On completion, the pupils were surveyed and 100% said they enjoyed the sessions.  According to Rita Tighe, the Principal of St Vincents’ Girl School,


Apart from the educational benefits in terms of their reading, the children really enjoyed the sessions and genuinely looked forward to meeting their mentor each day.  Their class teachers noted an improvement in their levels of confidence in terms of reading aloud, which some of them had struggled with prior to the project.”




The mentoring programme required a significant time commitment from our volunteers and a failure to honour this commitment would have been a serious disruption to the pupils participating.  We had 100% attendance from our volunteers with full support from management involved.



  1. Make prospective volunteers aware of the importance of literacy, which many of us take for granted, and the scale of the literacy problem in Ireland.
  2. When recruiting volunteers, communicate the commitment expected of them and the projected benefits of the programme.

Department Involved

The programme was implemented by Sinead Smith, CR Manager, scsmith@algoodbody.com