Thirty undergraduate and postgraduate law students were welcomed this month into the Government Legal Department as part of a summer placement scheme focused on promoting diversity in the legal profession.
Despite a number of positive initiatives going on across the legal profession, law remains a profession of primarily white, middle-class, privately-educated males. A report commissioned by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in 2014 found that 71% of senior judges went to independent schools and 75% went to Oxbridge.
The Government Legal Service summer placement scheme aims to open the door for law students from backgrounds that are currently under-represented across the legal profession with valuable experience of legal work.
The students enjoyed a structured programme that gave them insight into the unique and varied role of a government lawyer. The students were able to test their skills with exercises in litigation and advisory law, as well as tours of Parliament, the Supreme Court and the Foreign Office. They also had the opportunity to have their questions answered in a Q&A session with the Solicitor General.
Claire Johnston, Director General and GLD Diversity Champion, said: “Naturally, I hope that an insight into the unique role of government lawyers will be of interest to the students and that they will consider applying for graduate or qualified posts with us in the future. However, since many chambers and law firms regard work experience as an essential element when recruiting trainee solicitors or pupil barristers, I also hope that the scheme will ultimately contribute to improving the diversity profile of the legal profession as a whole.”
The students were selected by organisations which focus on promoting diversity – these include Aspiring Solicitors, BLD Foundation, Law Society (Diversity Access Scheme) and Social Mobility Foundation.