How our Diversity Access Scheme has helped you

Hear from past awardees of our Diversity Access Scheme (DAS). We're proud to have been able to offer these talented people an opportunity they may have otherwise missed out on.

Lisa Haythorne, solicitor at Derbyshire Law Centre, Sheffield & District Law Society president

Lisa Haythorne"I applied to the DAS in March 2012. I had worked as a legal executive at that point for 16 years.

I had grown up in a small mining village in Derbyshire: it was a village where my friends didn’t go to university.

When I was at school, the main career prospects were to work in the local underwear factory. All the women of the village caught a bus and were shipped to another village where the factory was. The men went to work in the pit or the steelworks.

I had taken A-levels and didn’t do very well, so was working in a greengrocer’s shop. I saw an advert to study the legal executives course, applied and started my studies in September 1993.

I started my career in law in 1995 at a firm of solicitors in Sheffield. I then worked in a few firms before moving to the then-Chesterfield Law Centre in 2006.

I was divorced from my husband in 2007 and was then for some time a single parent. I was also helping my dad to care for my mum who had lost her sight and had severe mobility problems.

The law centre encouraged to pursue my ambitions of becoming a solicitor.

In 2010, I remarried and at the same time as having my second child I studied for and passed the postgraduate diploma in law. I was exempt from a training contract as a CILEX fellow and completing the LPC was then the only thing standing in my way.

I applied for the DAS as I was unable to afford the LPC fees. I was delighted to find out I had been successful and was so pleased to be able to accept a place to complete the LPC, which I did part-time over two years.

I was finally admitted as a solicitor in 2014 and attended my admissions ceremony with my family including my dad and my three children.

My grandmother had been in service at the age of 14 to a president of Sheffield Law Society. I joined the committee and in 2020 became president of the Sheffield and District Law Society. My family had come full circle.

Without the DAS funding, I doubt very much that I would have been able to complete my studies and qualify to work in a job that I love.

I enjoy the work I do every day and, although often very busy and stressful, I would not change it."

Eleanor Jane Stringer, associate at Withers LLP

Eleanor Jane-Stringer"I was the first woman in my family to attend university, I come from a low-income family and both of my parents are partially disabled, meaning I have had caring responsibilities from a young age.

These were certainly barriers to pursuing a career in law.

The DAS really helped in providing me with a mentor who was excellent in supporting me and imparting wisdom for applications and interviews, and in funding the LPC, which would have taken me a long time to save for were it not for that financial support.

Most of all, receiving the DAS showed me that someone else believed my dream of becoming a solicitor was an achievable goal and that gave me confidence.

The DAS award meant more than words can describe to me. I am now at Withers, a firm that supports and sponsors the DAS award."

Whitney Joseph, senior associate at Mayer Brown LLP and Law Society social mobility ambassador

Whitney Joseph"The DAS provided me with funding that I would never have been able to access elsewhere.

It helped to remove the barriers caused by my disability that were preventing me from moving forward with my chosen career in the law.

The award demonstrated to me that the profession is committed to supporting those who need it the most: people from less advantaged backgrounds or those who have experienced exceptional hardships through no fault of their own.

In 2020 I accepted an invitation to join the DAS interviewing panel.

As a qualified solicitor now practising in the City, it felt enormously rewarding to be part of the decision making process that had such a positive impact on my career.

I hope that one day I will be in a position to support others in the way that the DAS supported me."

Josh Ackroyd, senior crown prosecutor at CPS Leeds

Josh Ackroyd"I was the first member of my family to attend university and to enter into the legal profession.

I grew up on social housing estate in a low income household. Alongside this, I was experiencing personal battles – notably, being gay in a predominantly heterosexual community.

Upon completing my LLB, I applied for the DAS, and to my surprise I was successful.

I undertook work experience within the Crown Prosecution Service, Government Legal Department and Leeds City Council.

Following my work experience at the CPS, I applied for a training contract and was successful.

I am so grateful to the DAS because this would not have been possible without the connections I formed throughout the last year.

I am now about to embark on my new role and feel more equipped to succeed than ever before, thanks to the DAS."

Janet Maria Coe, director and solicitor at Merseyside Law Centre

“Growing up in a family with limited means and a very disruptive home life, I was always made to believe that certain things, like university or a good job, were out of my reach.

I chose to ignore the social-economic boundaries that were placed on me and persevere, but when faced with the prospect of not being able to afford the LPC, I felt as if my efforts had been wasted.

The DAS gave me the chance to succeed in a legal career and to break the cycle of poverty and under achievement in my family and provide a life for myself that is far from what I ever could have imagined growing up. It is truly life changing.

The Law Society funding my LPC has not only provided me with financial support but also has given me the added confidence of knowing that the Law Society has faith in my hope of becoming a solicitor, which is something that cannot be measured in monetary terms.”

Rochelle Mckenzie McQueen

"The DAS has given me newfound confidence and a belief in my future within the legal sector.

Having fallen ill whilst at university, I did not achieve grades which reflected my skills or knowledge. I felt stuck and afraid that law firms would not take me seriously and that my health condition would act as a barrier to me achieving my goals.

I found it difficult to secure legal experience, especially as I was unable to work for free.

I saw the LPC as the only way of me being able to prove myself. However, as someone who comes from a low-income background, I had no way of funding the course.

The DAS has filled me with confidence and a new outlook on my future.

I feel truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to study the LPC and gain legal work experience. It is also great to know that others believe in my goals and my ability to achieve them."

Heidi Cooper

“I am delighted to have been awarded funding for the LPC under the DAS.

Growing up, I was led to believe that the legal profession was beyond my reach and social standing - a profession for people from wealthy families and a private education.

It took until I was 36, with two young children of my own, to realise that I should not let my background stand in the way of my ability and determination to succeed.

I enrolled on a part-time LLB with the Open University, and graduated in 2014. I did not have the means to fund the LPC, but the Law Society has made it possible for me to take the next step on my journey.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this amazing opportunity. Knowing that there are people within the profession who believe in me, gives me added confidence in my ability to succeed.”

Kayleigh Arthurs

“Coming from a low socio-economic background and being the first of my family to go to university, raising the funds for the LPC was impossible.

Without the DAS scholarship, commencing the LPC would have remained a dream and never a reality, especially when my situation worsened considerably after the completion of my law degree.

The Law Society has helped me become closer to a career in law, when I was never really expected to have more than an unskilled and low paid job.

In addition, DAS also aids the employability of its awardees with the mentoring scheme, an aspect that is invaluable to someone like me with my background and circumstances.” 

Sarah Christie

“Being a lone mother and having the extra obstacle of multiple serious injuries to my dominant arm, which disrupted my studies and has resulted in a permanent disability, I believed my goal of becoming a solicitor was out of reach.

After receiving the news of being a successful DAS applicant I was completely overwhelmed and humbled that the Law Society supported and believed in my potential of becoming a solicitor such that they have invested their funds, time and resources in to my future.

Being granted the DAS award has restored my confidence and is truly life changing for me. For this I will always be eternally grateful to the Law Society.”

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