The representation of the legal profession has always been criticised for its lack of diversity, particularly in terms of social and economic backgrounds. To address the issue, The Law Society introduced the Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) in 2004 to support students from less advantaged backgrounds to pursue a career in law. This article will explain how the DAS can help you and showcase some of its recent success stories.
The Diversity Access Scheme is a unique scholarship programme run by the Law Society that supports aspiring solicitors from underrepresented backgrounds in their legal education and careers. The scheme recognises that many talented students from low-income backgrounds may lack the financial resources to pursue legal education and do not have access to the networks and connections required to secure employment in the legal profession. The Diversity Access scheme provides all awardees with:
For more information, take a look at our dedicated page on the Law Society’s Diversity Access Scheme.
The scheme provides financial assistance through scholarships covering course fees for the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or Solicitors Qualifying Examination (SQE) to eligible candidates.
Success story: Lisa Haythorne, Solicitor at Derbyshire Law Centre and Sheffield & District Law Society President
Lisa Haythorne grew up in a small mining village in Derbyshire, where university education was not the norm. After working as a legal executive for 16 years, Lisa applied for the DAS in 2012. She began her career in law in 1995 at a firm of solicitors in Sheffield.
“I applied for the DAS as I was unable to afford the LPC fees. Without the DAS funding, I doubt very much that I would have been able to complete my studies and qualify to work in a job that I love.”
Solicitor at Derbyshire Law Centre and Sheffield & District Law Society President
Successful candidates will be matched with a professional mentor and enhance your understanding of the solicitor profession, particular mentoring support includes:
(Disclaimer: These are subject to the communication between you and your mentor.)
Success story: Eleanor Jane Stringer, associate at Withers LLP
The DAS really helped in providing me with a mentor who was excellent in supporting me and imparting wisdom for applications and interviews, and in funding the LPC, which would have taken me a long time to save for were it not for that financial support.
Eleanor Jane Stringer
Associate at Withers LLP
DAS also assists successful applicants in obtaining high-quality vacation schemes, legal work experience and training contracts brokered through the Law Society.
Besides this, the scheme is also introducing soft skill support sessions delivered through The Law Society’s careers team and DAS sponsors that focus on improving employability and applications, such as:
Success story: Josh Ackroyd, Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS Leeds
I undertook work experience within the Crown Prosecution Service, Government Legal Department and Leeds City Council. Following my work experience at the CPS, I applied for a training contract and was successful. I am so grateful to the DAS because this would not have been possible without the connections I formed throughout the last year.
Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS Leeds
The Diversity Access Scheme is funded by the following organisations:
For more information on the Diversity Access Scheme, eligibility and how to apply, read our dedicated page.
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