We are delighted to announce the eleven awardees of this year’s Law Society Diversity Access Scheme scholarships.
The Law Society Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) aims to improve social mobility in the legal profession by supporting talented, tenacious people who face exceptional social, educational, financial or personal obstacles to qualification as a solicitor. To date the scheme has supported 150 aspiring solicitors to pursue their career ambitions.
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. In 2015, for the first time, the Law Society is supporting one awardee - Claire Lathwell - on a training contract at North Kensington Law Centre and we will be providing a training contract place for a DAS alumni within the Society’s legal team in 2016.
One of this year’s Diversity Access Scheme alumni, Nafisa Aden, was separated from her family in Somalia when she fled the civil war aged 13. She arrived in the UK with her uncle and says that:
’the solicitor we had at the time was to me a hero, having persuaded the UK government to give us a permanent right to stay. I believe I was initially drawn to law as a subject to study having seen the real power it had to transform lives, including my own.
I believe I was initially drawn to law as a subject to study having seen the real power it had to transform lives, including my own.
’Having survived a civil war, and then starting school much later than most of my peers, as well as adjusting to a new language and country without family support, I really doubted if someone like me could join the profession I so admired.
’When I was an undergraduate, I found human rights and EU law most interesting. But I’ve also worked in a firm that specialises in family and immigration law which were very interesting in practice. If I end up in any of those areas, I think I’ll be very pleased.
‘The Diversity Access Scheme has enabled me to pass a financial hurdle that would have ended my ambition not because of lack of academic merit, but means. For that I am ever grateful and feel humbled to have been chosen.’
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. Other alumni faced financial and social hardship growing up in households where there was very little money or support to enable them to pursue their studies.
Previous alumni have experienced time in local authority care, resisted coercion into arranged marriage, escaped oppressive regimes.
Law Society president Jonathan Smithers said:
’I congratulate this year’s Diversity Access Scheme awardees. They have each overcome extraordinary challenges to get to this stage in their career. I am so glad the Law Society is able to support them in taking this significant step towards realising their ambitions. The profession is lucky to have these exceptional and inspiring people in our ranks.
‘DAS students represent the diverse talent in which we need to invest for excellence in the profession to thrive. 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.’
Interviews with awardees via the Law Society press office on 020 7320 5764.
DAS PLUS award not only provides assistance with fees for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) but also guarantees a training contract at a national Law Centre for the successful applicant. One DAS PLUS award will be available in 2015.
Law Society press office contact: 020 7320 5764