Social mobility is a potential barrier when considering a career in the law. Many aspiring solicitors may think that it is simply not possible if they do not fit the perceived persona of 'the lawyer', nor are they able to afford the costs associated with achieving their aim.
However, over recent years, the profession has worked hard to change the general perception the public may have about the legal profession and are welcoming prospective lawyers from non-traditional backgrounds into law; basing decisions on skill and merit rather than background. There has been significant improvement in removing the barriers to entry but, there are further opportunities to move forward in widening access to those with aspirations of a career in law.
The Diversity Access Scheme offers students the opportunity to study for their LPC by providing the necessary funding, work placement and professional mentoring. Every year we receive applications from hopeful solicitors, each providing a story of their desire for a career in law.
In 2019, we received 176 applications. It is heart-warming to know that there are so many prospective lawyers hoping for a chance to receive assistance in following their dreams although, disappointingly, we are severely lacking the resources to see many of these dreams come true.
As the scheme currently stands, we are able to offer only 10 awards and this is with great appreciation to the universities such as; BPP, Nottingham Law School, Westminster University and the University of Law that provide places for study and our members; BP, Eversheds, Hogan Lovells, RBS Legal and Withers who contribute to, or fully fund, the tuition fees for these students. Providing this essential stepping stone to law students, especially those who have experienced challenges in their lives, is vital in diversifying the legal profession and bringing all of the benefits of a wider talent pool with it.
Our dream is to give this opportunity to as many people as we can, but we need help in making this happen.
We know that the profession has worked incredibly hard when it comes to tackling issues surrounding social mobility and we are proud of the steps taken to create a more equal, diverse profession. But we can do more.
The Law Society would like to provide more bursaries within our Diversity Access Scheme, which would result in more work placements, mentoring, and sponsorship. If you think your firm, institution or organisation can help and would like to play a part in widening access to talented prospective lawyers, please contact email@example.com for more information.
We can make a difference together.