Barclays teams up with diversity networks to launch summer scheme

Barclays in-house legal department has teamed up with diversity networks Aspiring Solicitors, The Black Lawyers Directory Foundation and The Sutton Trust to offer 80 legal work placements this summer.

The work experience, starting this summer, forms part of one strand of the bank’s citizenship agenda, dedicated to increasing access to the profession. The bank intends to continue the scheme indefinitely.

It is rare move from within the in-house legal world with most diversity projects stemming from private practice.

Around 80 students and graduates will participate in the scheme, with the group being split into two and each cohort attending work experience for a week at the end of June. 

Magic circle and City firms will visit Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf to give workshops and presentations as part of the scheme. Topics covered will include what careers legal training can lead to, employability skills, what law firms expect from candidates and practical legal skills such as negotiation training and commercial awareness.

The bank is also in talks with a chambers to deliver a session on advocacy.

Of the 80 placements, 50 will go to members of Aspiring Solicitors, 15 to The Black Solicitors Network and 15 to The Sutton Trust.

Barclays has existing relationships with the two former organisations, and has collaborated with The Black Lawyers Directory Foundation on similar schemes previously.

Legal director David Jackson explained: “We wanted to draw participants from a broad base of people but obviously you cannot compromise on quality.

“We looked at 16 to 18-year-olds coming on the placements but there is already a fair bit out there focusing on them such as Prime and Pathways to Law. And at undergraduate level, you have a number of organisations focused on a particular area, such as Sutton Trust’s social and economic aims and The Black Lawyers Directory Foundation, which clearly focus on BME.

“We therefore don’t have an explicit social or economic aim; that will follow implicitly because of the way we are recruiting.”

The scheme is open to any second-year or above student or graduate of a UK university who has achieved, or is on course to achieve a 2:1 in any degree discipline.

Applications open on 7 April and candidates are asked to submit a CV, application form and an online verbal reasoning test.

Aspiring Solicitors launched early this year by former Norton Rose Fulbright associate Chris White, with the aim of promoting access in the profession and opening up opportunities to students of all backgrounds.

Firms including Freshfields and Hogan Lovells have signed up to the initiative, which now has student representatives in all of its 72 partner universities.