Schemes launched for BME students

Two new programmes will be launched at the end of January with the intention of encouraging undergraduates and 13 to 17-year-olds from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds to apply to law firms.

‘Legal Launch Pad’ and ‘Today’s Children, Tomorrow’s Lawyers’ are supported financially and in terms of resources by primary sponsor DLA Piper together with Allen & Overy, Barclays’ in-house legal team, BPP School of Law, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith, Lovells, Olswang, Shoosmiths and Slaughter and May.

DLA Piper global chief people officer Robert Halton said: “There are quite a few people out there who don’t consider a legal career, but should do. Either they have misconceptions about the legal profession or, worse, no conceptions about the legal profession at all.”

Although a high number of law students and graduates come from BME backgrounds, they are less likely to find training contracts, pupillages and tenancies than non-BME students.

Both schemes attempt to remedy this imbalance by raising the aspirations of BME applicants. The schemes will assist up to 50 students a year throughout the UK with mentoring, workshops and work placements.

The programmes come under the Black Lawyers Directory’s (BLD) ‘Legal Gateway’ umbrella programme.

The BLD has also published a directory of BME lawyers in prominent positions in the legal profession, which is intended to encourage BME applicants to join the legal profession, to establish a network of BME lawyers and, according to its website to “provide employers with a dynamic tool to support their diversity recruitment strategies”.