Breaking barriers: the rise of disabled lawyersJanuary 30, 2024
No Justice Without Lawyers—The Myth of an Inquisitorial SolutionJanuary 30, 2024
By Salma Khalif.
Reading time: four minutes
Exploring resources and support systems available for underrepresented law students.
Diversity & Inclusion
Firstly, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) within the legal sector is essential for creating a fair and representative legal system. It is key that there is a comfortable environment that reflects diversity of society. This ensures a wide range of perspectives are equally contributing, which promotes and strengthens the effectiveness of the legal system.
However, there are many law students from ethnic minorities and low socioeconomic backgrounds who face challenges that hinder their academic journey. The absence of representation within the legal field for these aspiring students means a lack of role models which can lead to feeling isolated. As a result, there has been an increase in support systems and resources for underrepresented law students to benefit from e.g. non-profit legal organisations, which is key for allowing students to overcome challenges and thrive in their legal pursuits.
Resources and Support Systems
Aspiring Solicitors is a non-profit organisation whose focus is enhancing D&I within the legal profession. Their sole goal is to empower aspiring solicitors from underrepresented backgrounds. They do this through various methods like work placements, vacation schemes and training contracts. Aspiring solicitors provide free support and educate the next generation. For example, 84% of vacation scheme holders that attend their HeadStart workshops secure a training contract. They have helped with over 8000 training contracts and vacation schemes for students, they have over 600 legal mentors and over 75,000 members.
Additionally, their core values include commitment, unity and respect and they aim to ensure all students feel valued and comfortable when joining.
Rare Foundations is a competitive programme for students interested in commercial law, for Black African and Black Caribbean students in their first year of a three-year course or second year of a four-year course. The programme runs in conjunction with the following firms:
- Clifford Chance;
- Herbert Smith Freehills;
- Hogan Lovells;
- Linklaters; and
- Mishcon de
Rare foundation is an exclusive programme which allows students to get their foot in the door and start building connections with partners and associates, as well as gaining experience early on.
City Solicitor Horizons
The City Solicitors is offering a three-year support programme to improve access to the legal field for first-year undergraduates from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Every year, 50 students are selected to join the programme, they are then paired with at least one legal professional mentor, and they are guaranteed work experience at their paired sponsor firm.
Examples of support provided are:
- commercial awareness;
- CV etiquette;
- psychometric tests; and
- interviews and
This programme allows students to build vital networks with industry professionals and convert their internship into a permanent role.
Lastly, it’s worth checking your university services as most students do not utilise this which means they may miss out on great resources and support systems. Law school’s play a vital role in nurturing the careers of aspiring legal professionals by offering employability services. These services can offer structured career guidance programmes which equip students with essential skills such as CV writing, interview preparation and networking skills. This guidance is essential for navigating the legal world; therefore, these services can ensure students are well prepared and confident as they transition from academic to professional careers.
Initiatives like Aspiring Solicitors, Rare Foundations, City Solicitor Horizons and University support services, highlight the key pillars in addressing challenges faced by underrepresented law students from a range of backgrounds. Actively participating in these support systems enables students to overcome obstacles and flourish in their careers. The impact of these programmes contributes towards an inclusive sector by allowing law students to gain opportunities which benefit their legal career journey.