Aston University: Aston University partners with Shoosmiths to open up opportunities to study a law degree

A programme to support students from under-represented backgrounds towards a career in law has been launched by Aston University in partnership with leading law firm Shoosmiths.

The Pathways to Law will launch in September 2022 with up to 30 Year 12 students taking part in an 18-month programme of activities to give academically-able, disadvantaged students the chance to develop important key skills in preparing to study a law degree.

The government made an announcement about its plans for improving access and participation in November 2021, calling for universities to do more to support students into high skilled and high paid jobs.

Aston University will host several information, advice and guidance sessions as well as law taster sessions on campus over the 18-month programme.

Shoosmiths will host three core events: Routes in to Law (Year 12 Feb 2023), Professional Skills and Employability (Year 12 June 2023) and a networking event hosted by Shoosmiths (Year 13 October 2023).

Saskia Loer Hansen, Interim Vice-Chancellor of Aston University, said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity for prospective law students from across the West Midlands.

“Aston University is proud of its track record on social mobility. Research by the UK government’s Social Mobility Commission shows that even when those from working class backgrounds gain access to professional occupations, they go on to earn an average of £6,000 less per year than colleagues from more advantaged backgrounds – a ‘class pay gap’ that persists even when they have the same education, training and experience.

“We hope that initiatives like this will help close the class pay gap further and look forward to opening applications in summer 2022.”

Alex Bishop, Partner and Co-head of Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office said: “Initiatives like Pathways to Law are an important part of our firm’s continued commitment to advancing social mobility.

“It is wonderful to see Victoria Potts, one of our stellar Birmingham lawyers so passionate about driving forwards social mobility through this new programme to offer more potential opportunities for young people in our city who might otherwise feel a career in law is beyond their reach.”

Victoria Potts, Associate at Shoosmiths who is leading on the creation and delivery of the programme said:

“I am looking forward to partnering with Aston University to work to open up the legal profession for students who would not normally see their career within it.

“All of the students who will be selected for the programme will meet widening participation criteria and be based in the West Midlands area.

“We are keen to develop a pathway which widens the social profile of candidates in the legal profession and is representative of the community it serves.

“These activities will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the students and will help level the playing field for their progression into higher education and the legal profession.”

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