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London School of Economics announced as one of five universities chosen for £1.5m College of Law/Sutton Trust diversity programme

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LSE has been announced as one of five leading universities chosen to work as partners with The College of Law and the Sutton Trust in a £1.5m programme over five years to encourage more students from non-professional and poorer families to enter the legal profession.

The universities of Leeds, Manchester, Southampton, Warwick and LSE have been chosen because of the reputation of their law courses, their record of commitment to widening participation and their existing links with the College's five centres in Birmingham, Chester, Guildford, London and York.

The universities will work closely with students in the sixth form at schools in their areas who have expressed an interest in a legal career. They will help them with their applications and interviews, and provide them with mentors during their Law courses.

The programme known as Pathways to Law will start in September. It is designed to attract fresh talent to the legal profession by targeting students from state schools who will be the first in their family to attend university, and whose parents are in non-professional occupations. It is aimed at schools which have a higher than average proportion of children on free school meals and very little history of sending young people to higher education.

It is anticipated that close to 750 students a year could be assisted by the year 2010. If they all were to gain training contracts they would form about 12.5 per cent of the 6000 solicitors who start the next stage of their training.

The College which is donating £1.25m will work in partnership with the Sutton Trust, which is contributing a further £250,000 and will manage the project.

Richard de-Friend, regional director of The College of Law in Bloomsbury, London, said: 'We chose the London School of Economics as one of our partners because of the very high reputation of its law course and its commitment to opening its doors widely to students from all backgrounds. We also have very close links with the university's legal department and have run summer and winter schools for students from deprived parts of London in conjunction with them. Together we hope we can open up the legal profession to students from all walks of life in London and the South East and beyond.'

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said: 'The Pathways to Law project was prompted by a disturbing report by the Sutton Trust published in 2005 on the educational backgrounds of the UK's top solicitors, barristers and judges. This found that three out of four top judges, more than two-thirds of top barristers and more than half the partners at leading law firms had been educated at private schools, which now account for 7 per cent of the school population. We hope to do something to make the legal profession more representative of the population at large.'

Catherine Baldwin, head of recruitment and admissions at LSE, said: 'We welcome the opportunity to work with the College of Law and the Sutton Trust in law, where we offer expertise at undergraduate and graduate level. We run a a number of widening participation projects for students in London, including student tutoring, student shadowing and summer schools.'

The College of Law and the Sutton Trust are now working with leading law firms, the Law Society and the Bar Council to ensure that each student will benefit from guaranteed work experience as part of the Pathways programme. Details of this aspect of the scheme and the commitments of firms involved will be released later this year.

The joint initiative was prompted by a disturbing report by the Sutton Trust published in 2005 on the educational backgrounds of the UK's top solicitors, barristers and judges. This found that three out of four top judges, more than two-thirds of top barristers and more than half the partners at leading law firms had been educated at private schools, which now account for 7 per cent of the school population.1

Ends

Contact:

Tim Devlin, press officer, The College of Law and the Sutton Trust on 01205 290817 or 07939 544 487.

Or Jess Winterstein, LSE Press Office, email j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk|, tel: 020 7955 7060.

Notes

1The Educational Backgrounds of the UK's top Solicitors, Barristers and Judges published by the Sutton Trust October 2005

Widening participation at LSE
LSE encourages applications from all students with the very best academic potential, irrespective of their background. The School has, therefore, been involved with a number of widening participation and access initiatives since 1998, with the aim of raising the aspirations of school and college students, both to higher education in general and to come and study at LSE. 

The College of Law
The College of Law is the largest provider of vocational legal education and training in Europe, training students to become solicitors and barristers in England and Wales and providing training after qualification. Incorporated in 1962, the College is an educational charity controlled by a Board of Governors and was granted a Royal Charter in 1975.
With centres in Birmingham, Chester, Guildford, London and York, the College employs over 700 staff, including 350 teaching staff made up of solicitors and barristers. The College also offers a wide range of distance learning and continuing professional development to all those in the legal profession.

The Sutton Trust
The Sutton Trust is a charity founded in 1997 by Sir Peter Lampl with the aim of improving social mobility through providing educational opportunities for able young people from non-privileged backgrounds.

The activities of the Trust are aimed at helping able children who are educationally disadvantaged by raising both their aspirations and their academic achievement. It funds a wide range of research and projects covering parenting and early years, schools, universities and access to the professions. For further information see www.suttontrust.com|

Press cuttings

Legal Week
Universities join College of Law mentoring scheme (23 March 07)
Five universities have teamed up with the College of Law and educational charity the Sutton Trust to provide a mentoring programme for underprivileged students. The universities of Leeds, Manchester, Southampton, Warwick and the London School of Economics will all work with students in their local areas as part of the College's drive to encourage more students from non-professional and poorer families into the law. 

Guardian
Help for poorer pupils to win places on law courses (22 March 07)
A plan to break the stranglehold of privately educated judges, barristers and solicitors on the legal profession was announced last night. Five universities are to target sixth form students from poorer backgrounds and no family history of university, helping them with applications and interviews and then providing mentoring through their law courses. Leeds, Manchester, Southampton, Warwick and LSE could be helping 750 students a year by 2010, who could form about one in eight of the 6,000 solicitors who enter the next stage of their career path.

Daily Mail
Cambridge on collision course with Cabinet
(22 March 07)
Five universities will target sixth-formers from poorer backgrounds in their localities to encourage them to join the legal profession. Leeds, Manchester, Southampton, Warwick and the London School of Economics will give the students guidance on filling out their application forms and attending interviews. The £1.5 million scheme funded by the College of Law and the Sutton Trust education charity aims to help 750 students a year by 2010.

22 March 2007

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