Talented trainee lawyers are being given a boost to help them qualify as solicitors, the Law Society said as it announced the 2017 cohort of Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) scholars.
DAS aims to improve social mobility in the legal profession by supporting people who face exceptional social, educational, financial or personal obstacles to qualify as a solicitor. To date the scheme has supported close to 200 aspiring solicitors to pursue their career ambitions.
Law Society president Joe Egan said: ‘DAS scholars represent the diverse talent we need to invest in for the profession to thrive. We are extremely lucky to have these tenacious, resourceful lawyers joining our ranks.
‘Each has overcome significant challenges to get to this stage in their career and they have my utmost respect. I am so glad the Law Society is able to support them in taking this significant step towards realising their ambitions.’
DAS scholar Sabrina Akram explained what the award means to her: ‘The DAS Award has given me a lifeline. Now I feel like I finally have that support around me and the Law Society understands the obstacles I may face and has offered to help me.
‘It means the world to me to have somebody to believe in me and allow me to achieve my dreams – it motivates me to work much harder.’
In addition to financial assistance to undertake their Legal Practice Course, the scheme offers awardees relevant high quality work experience, a professional mentor and networking opportunities.
The Law Society will also support one awardee - Matthew Brown - on a training contract at Derby Law Centre and DAS alumni Peter de Biasio has a training contract in the Law Society’s legal team.
Previous alumni have experienced time in local authority care, resisted coercion into arranged marriage, escaped oppressive regimes and battled for access to university with severe physical disabilities.
Joe Egan concluded: ‘I am extremely proud of the Diversity Access Scheme and very grateful for the sponsorship and support of a range of benefactors - from law firms to schools of law - that allows us to continue to support diversity and social mobility among solicitors.’