After watching Chris Daw QC‘s short film on social mobility in the legal profession I reflected on my own background starting out and was encouraged to share my thoughts. It is important to get more of this message out in the public.
I didn’t know much about the Bar whilst at high school. It’s really important that young students are exposed to as many relatable role models in a variety of fields and from a variety of backgrounds. Young people should feel that any profession is accessible and relatable role models go a long way in helping students realise this. Relatable could mean different things to people; it may be a choice of school, ethnicity, city you grew up in, socio-economic background, class, race, religion, gender or accent. An individual feeling a profession is representative or diverse may depend on which of these aspects they place weight on.
Mentorship can also help build resilience in young people. We have all experienced setbacks in life. Hearing someone else has overcome a setback similar to your own can inspire hope. In the words of my A-Level English Literature teacher, you can either let rejection destroy you or define you. Mentors can help reframe perspectives and help students see the bigger picture.
After encouraging and inspiring young people to aim high, the doors need to be kept open at later stages. For example, working around figures suggesting those from BME backgrounds are less likely to obtain pupillage. Access to mentorship and opportunities from those in the profession can support.
Some projects which pursue this aim are:
– ‘Barristers in Schools‘ project
– Pre-university events run by the Inns of Court
– Garden Court’s ‘Access to the Bar for All’ mentoring scheme – for 16 year old students from ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds!
– MOSAIC – I attended the Mosaic Yorkshire Connect event at DLA Piper Leeds and was really impressed by the presentations from the pupils at Dixons Trinity. Mosaic mentees often come back as ambassadors which is testament to the impact they have!
– The Sutton Trust and Pathways to Law
– The Leeds Muslim Youth Forum (LMYF) have a recommendation (no.6) in their report, to encourage mentorship of young people to realise their potential, raise career aspirations and provide professional development (for all backgrounds and faiths).
-More recently, barristers Bernard Richmond QC and Jaime Hamilton QC organised opportunities which support access to the profession. 91 people applied to the Advocacy Training Session open to those aged 16 and over. To attend a session like this as an A-Level student would be great exposure to the Bar.
If you know of any similar initiatives, add a comment or get in touch!