College of Law gives £1.25m to encourage diversity

The College of Law and social mobility charity the Sutton Trust have donated £1.5m to a scheme to attract non public school educated people into the law.

Called ‘Pathways to Law,’ the project has been established in response to research commissioned by the Sutton Trust last year that revealed that former public school pupils continue to dominate the legal profession.

Targetting 15 and 16-year-old state school pupils whose families have not attended university, the scheme will mentor them through A-level and university.

It will also introduce the students to contacts in the legal world, leading to work experience and placements with firms and barristers chambers.

Though details are being finalised, it is anticipated that 750 pupils a year will be aided by the system by 2010. If all these were to be given training contracts, they would amount to one eighth of new trainees.

The College of Law donated £1.25m to the scheme, with the Sutton Trust donating £250,000.

College of Law chief executive Nigel Savage said: “This is what distinguishes the College from our competitors. We are not about shareholder values – we are investing in the future of the profession.”

The Sutton Trust’s research showed that more than half the partners at top firms were privately educated.

It also showed that more than two thirds of barristers had been to private schools, and three out of four judges.

It also revealed that the proportion of state school-educated people entering the profession has shrunk since the 1960s.