In an update on what we're doing in our offices to advance social mobility, we wanted to share the work underway in Leeds - providing support for pupils in secondary school, especially those who have been eligible for free school meals and those who are first generation to go to University, keen to make a career in law.
Through an existing relationship, and some background research, we became aware of the University of Leeds Pathways to Law programme, a scheme for year 12/13 students from under-represented backgrounds who are interested in a career in law. Students eligible for the programme are those who are either in receipt of free school meals, are first generation to go to university, have been looked after or are in care, live in a neighbourhood with a low rate of progression to high education, or a high level of socio economic deprivation.
We recognised the aims of Pathways To Law aligned well with the Leeds office action and Lizzy Wood (Principal Associate) volunteered to explore whether there were ways the office could support with this programme. Lizzy worked in partnership with Annabel Box, the Pathways to Law Coordinator at the University of Leeds.
In collaboration with the university, Lizzy shaped a series of five interactive virtual sessions (running March – June 2021) designed to assist the young students on a programme in developing essential skills for a future career in law and providing an insight into what it is like working in the legal sector.
Lizzy brought together a team of volunteers from the Leeds office to support each session and worked with Annabel to prepare materials for the programme. Sessions were held via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra and student ambassadors from the University of Leeds were on hand to assist.
The five sessions included a presentation from colleagues at Shoosmiths on the ‘Life of a Lawyer’, team work skills, communication/presentation skills, a CV Workshop and preparing for assessment centres (including interview skills).
The sessions were so successful that Pathways to Law have asked the Leeds office to support again for the academic year 21/22 (hopefully to include some in-person sessions).