Law Soc, Bar join mobility push on 'middle class' sectors

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  • Social mobility

    Ok, the main criticism I have of this is that only about one line of it is about social mobility. Women and ethnic minority equal opportunities while commendable are a different issue.

    Social mobility is about where these solicitors and partners come from. Were their fathers all lawyers and is that how they got in? Or were their families wealthy enough to send them to private school to get entrance to
    Oxbridge to make it into the slaughter and may elite? So the only line that talks about this is 'We already encourage firms to look for their recruits from a wide range of universities and other institutions'. By doing what?
    And have the barriers already been formed because certain children don't get into the highly regarded institutions as they are judged on what school they went to.

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  • There is more to diversity than this

    I have to agree with Lindsay MacMillan's comment. Increasing diversity is of benefit to both society and the firm, but increasing women and ethnic minorities is not the only way to go.

    The social and financial background of applicants isn't even tracked by law firms. I come from a background where I am the only one in my entire family to go to university and my school didn't send many pupils either. My parents have a combined income of less than £10,000 and I have had to fight tooth and nail to get this far financially as well as academically. Unfortunately despite going to a top 5 university my school background is a barrier. Diversity really should be promoted - but diversity means a lot of things, whether it is looking at mature applicants, career changes, ethnicity or social class.

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  • Social Mobility

    I think you are correct and this is one of the reasons why I introduced a full fees scholarship for the LPC/BVC/GDL for students who are first generation graduates with no family connections to law. I look back on my own experience as a white anglo saxon from extremely humble beginnings in working class South Yorkshire. I attended a school where only 3 of us made it passed A levels to study for degrees and nobody went to Oxbridge and this was in Thatcher's 1980's. Apparently coming from a single parent background and getting free school meals marked me out as somebody unlikely to proceed beyond 16.
    We must not forget the talented people who are not lucky enough to have connections. I think things are better but we can still do more and I welcome this initiative.

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  • Physician, heal thyself

    It's all very well the Government banging on about social mobility. But when you consider that 15 of the 23 members of the Cabinet were privately educated and one of them, Geoff Hoon, just paid several grand to have his daughter coached for her Oxbridge interview, one wonders where they're going with this.

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  • The Forgotten Diversity Issue

    I think it's about time that the question of socio-economic background is tackled alongside the "traditional" diversity issues of gender, ethnic background and sexuality, and so I certainly welcome this initiative. I have experienced life both at the Bar and as a solicitor, and have felt that this issue has been long overlooked by both sides of the profession.

    But there are, of course, no easy answers, and this is not an issue which the legal profession can address in isolation. It is, for example, disappointing how many of the top legal positions go to Oxbridge graduates (of any gender, ethnic background or sexuality), who in turn have often been accepted to Oxbridge from exclusive private schools. This makes it very difficult for equally-able students from poorer areas to get into the profession when they come from underperforming schools and non-Oxbridge/redbrick universities. There is no simply solution to this problem, without going back and addressing the quality of education made available to people from poorer backgrounds in the first place.

    That said, from my experience, the solicitors' side of the profession is, on the whole, more accesible to non-Oxbridge graduates than the Bar, although this may simply be a reflection of the differing number of positions available.

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  • social mobility in law

    The Institute of Legal Executives (ILEX) is delighted to see that the issue of social mobility is being taken seriously by the Law Society and the Bar Council.

    However we’d like to stress that ILEX has always served as a highly accessible route to becoming a lawyer. Over 80,000 people have chosen ILEX to study to become a lawyer, and 75% of our members are women and more than 13% are black or from a minority ethnicity.

    In terms of social mobility, recent research found that legal executives with parents who were lawyers or who attended university were only a tiny minority, with less than 5% of our members saying that both their parents went to university. In fact the greatest cited reason why our members chose ILEX as their path to become a lawyer was that they could not afford to study at University, as our qualifications cost around £3500 to complete.

    As Bridget Prentice MP, Ministry of Justice, once said of ILEX “Opportunity has always been at the centre of ILEX’s philosophy… ILEX trains, develops & encourages people to reach their full potential.”

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  • 'Social mobility' is a buzzword for PC nonsense

    I'm going to be brutally honest and say I disagree with the concept of 'social mobility' because its patronising and removes any notion that the legal profession is, and should be based upon meritocracy.

    The keys to success in the legal industry is hard work, top academic grades and intelligence. These days, anyone can choose to go to University, study a law degree and then go on to take the LPC or BVC course somewhere with the help of plenty of government-assisted funding like the Student Loans Co or an educational loan from a mainstream bank. It’s not about your background, it’s about how hard you are prepared to work to achieve in a very tough industry.

    I don’t believe in positive discrimination and I never will. I’m from an ethinic miniority background and no one in my family was ever a lawyer before me. I didn’t need to be positively discriminated against to achieve what I did. My grades, performance reviews at work and ambition saw me through it all. The bottom line is that if you are prepared to work very hard for something that you really want, you stand a really good chance of achieving it. You have to want to become a lawyer; you aren’t born with that right to practice law through your background, education or the fact that your parents are pals with the partner of a magic-circle firm.

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  • Social mpbility

    What people always seem to forget when they talk about social mobility is that yes, you can be poor and bright and therefore have the ability. And you can be rich and non-academic and therefore not have the ability. But most bright parents go on to have bright kids. It's not about social class, it's about intelligence/valuing education. If your parents don't work and don't value education, you are unlikely to do well at school. If they don't work and DO value education, you are far more likely to do well at school. It really isn't about how much money you or your parents have, it's about the attitude of parents to school and working for a living. You have to educate the parents before you can educate the child.

    However, what would certainly help, would be a return to free tuition fees for a first university degree. I benefited from getting my fees paid and receiving a student grant and therefore had very little debt when I graduated. I was also lucky enough to get sponsored through the LPC by a MC law firm. It would be good for MPs to see beyond the fact that graduates earn more and see that they are good for the economy (earn more, pay more tax and perform essential jobs like doctor and dentist as well as lawyer). If you could get through university without amassing lots of debt you'd have a better chance of being able to afford to do the LPC etc. And bringing back grammar schools might help as well.

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  • Lessons in Patience Are Learned Slow

    I am not sure why anybody would believe there is any inherent (or genuine) requirement for any great degree of intellect or intelligence to be an effective lawyer. There are, to my mind, other careers/ vocations that require greater degrees of intelligence and intellect. I am also not sure why anyone today would consider an Oxbridge graduate or a privately educated individual to be likely to possess any greater ability or potential than any other individuals.

    I consider that the real issue is the prevalence of an ignorant readers' digest perception of traditional (and somewhat outdated) values, however, things are changing. There are many people that do not share these misconceptions that are now in a position to hire and promote individuals (within the legal profession as well as others) and these people are becoming increasingly prevalent; it takes time though and it is clear to me that any prescribed "positive discrimination" (an oxymoron to end all oxymorons) only really achieves short term targets and ultimately introduces down-the-line prejudices/ discrimination.

    I welcome diversity but merit always needs to come first and a person should be free (and encouraged) to hire and promote on the basis of merit alone - it is, in my view, manifestly unfair, to require anyone to hire or promote on the basis of meeting diversity targets above merit or to allow diversity as the basis of a decision.

    It is not easy to be patient with the flushing-out of manifest unfairness but it is ultimately worth the wait, in the meantime we should strive to change and award on merits. I am a privately educated, Cambridge graduate and I am in a position to recruit and promote, I strive to do so on merit and I hope that I succeed in this more than I fail. In my experience privately educated and/ or Oxbridge graduates are just as likely to be as promising as anyone else, but no more likely - the only thing I would say is that there is a greater risk of homogenous banality in privately educated Oxbridge graduates (something I personally recognised in my pre-teens and avoided with an unnerving degree of stubbornness (again, I hope I succeeded more than I failed!)) but I accept it can be difficult for people suffering from the same shortcomings to recognise them in others and unfortunately these are the individuals that perpetuate the unfairness that they benefitted from.

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  • Scrap the LPC

    The LPC is a financial barrier to becoming a trainee solicitor. You could cover its content in a couple of months at a firm.

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