Inner Temple is co-funding a PhD with Keele University looking at social mobility and diversity schemes at the Inn, in particular the Pegasus Access Scheme (PAS).
Launched in March 2012, over 50 chambers from across the Inns are already offering candidates from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to take part in a range of mini pupillages through the PAS.
The criteria for the PAS includes the requirements for the candidate to have attended a state school, to be in the first generation of their family to go into higher education, and to have been eligible for free school meals.
Elaine Freer is conducting the doctoral research under the supervision of Dr Andrew Francis, Head of the Department of Law and an Academic Fellow of the Inn, whose own research focuses on diversity in the legal professions - interim findings will be produced in early 2014 with a final thesis submitted in 2015.
Anthony Dursi, Inner Temple’s outreach manager, said “We felt that it was essential to imbed research and evaluation into our social mobility and diversity work in order to focus our efforts and resources on high-impact interventions.
“The Outreach Committee, chaired by James Dingemans QC, has been keen that all of our outreach initiatives are backed by evidence-based approaches. In the last three-years, we have begun building up our own research base in order to monitor progress and benchmark our efforts.
“The Inn went one step further in co-funding this PhD in order to assess what is working well and what can be improved in order to make truly meaningful progress. This evaluation-based approach has been recently recommended by Alan Milburn in his recent progress report on Access to Professional Careers, where the Inner Temple Schools Project was listed as best practice,” he added.
In May research by the Bar Standards Board suggested that non-traditional candidates have more difficulty securing a pupillage than those who are white, male and middle class. (1 May 2012)