Introducing Baroness Helena Kennedy last night at the College of Law’s “Diversity at the Bar” debate, the school’s chief executive Nigel Savage (pictured) played up their shared working class credentials.
Meanwhile, across town in the City, the ‘t’s were being crossed and ‘i’s dotted on the College’s sale to Montagu Private Equity – Savage’s latest coup…
Under the deal, the College’s legal education and training business will be separated from its charitable activities.
Down to earth and funny, Savage is a likeable man. On the back of his charm, he has gone from turkey inseminator who failed the 11 plus to wealthy law school chief. Now, aged 60, he is set to enjoy a new lease of life expanding the College of Law abroad fuelled by Montagu’s money. Last night he told me that he planned “to do a Sir Alex Ferguson and keep going into my 70s”.
This is all lovely for Savage, but what about the current generation of young people from a background like his own?
Although Savage will doubtless point to the £200 million charitable fund that remains following the sale (between £2-£7 million of which will be used towards scholarships, depending on which reports you read), the reality is that the deal will place his organisation under fierce pressure to maximise profit. It may not happen immediately, but that will likely mean at some point soon fees will rise.
The alternative would be to freeze fees and cut teaching costs – although judging by Savage’s past description of rival law school BPP (which is part owned by private equity house Apollo) as a “sausage factory” which “serves fries” with its courses, he may be reluctant to take that route.
Either way, the College of Law’s sale looks highly unlikely to foster the sort of socio-economic “diversity” that Savage and co. claimed to be promoting last night.