Talented aspiring solicitors awarded coveted scholarship

14 talented aspiring solicitors have been awarded a sought-after scholarship by the Law Society of England and Wales’ Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) to help them qualify.

DAS aims to help improve social mobility and diversity in the legal profession by supporting people who face exceptional social, educational, financial or personal obstacles to qualifying as a solicitor.

To date, the scheme has supported nearly 300 talented trainees to pursue their career ambitions.

Law Society President Lubna Shuja said: “We are delighted to welcome 14 new students onto the Diversity Access Scheme. I am grateful to our sponsors, the Law Society Legal Educational Trust and the many others who have made this all possible.

“I hugely admire DAS awardees’ achievements in the face of great challenges – our scholars include a paramedic, carers and an active member of the Junior Lawyers Division. Our previous scholars have spent their childhoods in care and others have escaped oppressive regimes.

“Schemes like DAS do so much good to provide financial relief, open doors to prospective employers and enable aspiring solicitors to pursue their chosen career.

“2024 is going to be a landmark year for DAS, as the Law Society will celebrate 20 years since the scheme began.

“I encourage any aspiring solicitor who is facing particular challenges on their way to qualification to consider applying for a place on the Diversity Access Scheme in future years. I also invite sponsors interested in supporting our scheme to reach out to us.”

Robert Dudley, Head of Employability and Engagement of one our sponsors, BARBRI, said: “We are delighted to be once again supporting the incredible work of the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme this year by welcoming our third scholar to our SQE course.

“At BARBRI we believe that all aspiring lawyers should be given the opportunity to access the profession. Under our BARBRI Bridges initiative, our support of DAS is helping enhance diversity and inclusion within the sector, ultimately shaping the legal industry of the future.”

One of the 2023 DAS awardees, Mara Harris, said: “I am absolutely honoured to be one of the DAS awardees this year. The DAS has made sure I can afford to make my dreams come true. I grew up on a council estate near Dudley, attending the local state school. I was then lucky enough to attend the University of Oxford to complete my law degree, but struggled throughout my studies.

“At university, I faced bereavement and was diagnosed with both depression and autism in my final year. I also came out as non-binary in my first year of university, and my aspirations of becoming a medical solicitor means in the future I should be able to help trans people who are facing difficulties in their medical transition.”

Casey Allen-Weichardt, one of the 2023 DAS awardees, added: “The DAS has provided me with the financial security I needed to take the next steps towards a successful and fulfilling career as solicitor.

“As an individual from a single-parent family who has grown up on a council estate, I thought I would never have this opportunity because I don’t fit the stereotype of the typical law student. I lacked the confidence to progress with my career aspirations. The DAS helped to provide me with the confidence I need because others believe in me and see my potential.”

Kiera O’Connor, one of the 2023 DAS awardees, said: “I grew up in a broken home on a council estate with a single teenage mother. I attended a school where my home life interfered with my education, and I was constantly told that I could never get a law degree and ‘someone like me’ isn’t made for this profession.

“The DAS has allowed me to feel believed in and has made me appreciate that my potential has been recognised. Without DAS, I would not be in the position to fund my LPC to become a solicitor and the mentoring DAS provides will give me exposure I’ve never had before. I truly feel my future career as a solicitor would not be possible without this scheme.”

One of the 2022 DAS awardees, Harry Payne, said: “It is the less tangible aspects of the DAS that make me urge aspiring solicitors to apply. To have such a supportive network who understand how difficult it is for individuals from marginalised and underrepresented backgrounds and who are always willing to talk, empathise and plan a way forward is invaluable.

“It has been a widely held stereotype that working class, LGBTQIA+, people of colour and other minority groups are not the norm in the legal sphere, but because of the DAS scholarship and the opportunities that it affords I know that times are changing and I am so proud to have been a part of it."

Notes to editors

The 2023 DAS cohort will be undertaking the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC), as we continue to transition from the current system to the SQE.

Applications for the next cohort of Diversity Access Scheme awards will open in February 2024.

For interviews with alumni please contact Naomi Jeffreys (contact details below).

The Diversity Access Scheme is sponsored by:

  • College of Legal Practice
  • QLTS School
  • Squire Patton Boggs
  • Natwest Legal
  • Withers LLP
  • Kingsley Napley
  • Hogan Lovells
  • Sackers
  • Nottingham Law School
  • BPP Law School
  • The University of Law
  • University of Westminster
  • UBS

The DAS also benefitted from donations from:

  • Z. Kharas
  • Chambers Students
  • And ongoing support from the Law Society Educational Trust

Find out more about the Diversity Access Scheme

Find out about the SQE

All inquiries about the scheme from potential participants or sponsors can be sent to Leila Lesan at diversityaccessscheme@lawsociety.org.uk.

About the Law Society

The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.

Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 020 8049 3928

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