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Newcastle Uni teams up with social mobility charity to help aspiring lawyers from low-income families

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Pathways to Law scheme triples chances of landing a uni place

Newcastle University (Credit: Sarah Cossom)

Newcastle Unversity has launched a new scheme to give secondary school students from low-income families a route into law.

The Pathways to Law programme, a partnership with the Sutton Trust social mobility charity, is a two-year scheme for 16-18 year olds interested in a legal career.

Participants get work experience placements, sit in on lectures, network with lawyers and attend a four-day conference. The idea is to improve the CVs and uni-readiness of high-achieving students from less well-off backgrounds.

The Sutton Trust says that Pathways to Law participants are three and a half times more likely to be offered a place at a “top university” than their peers with similar grades.

Newcastle law lecturer Joshua Jowitt said:

“I attended a Sutton Trust Summer School myself back in 2005, so I know first-hand the difference that participating in a programme like this can have on young peoples’ lives.”

There are 30 places available on the Pathways to Law programme at Newcastle. It is open to year 12 students at state schools who live within commutable distance of the university and have five GCSEs at grades seven to nine.

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

Applicants must also be eligible for free school meals and be potentially the first in their family to go to university. Applications open today.

Jowitt, who was the first in his family to do A-levels and studied law at Cambridge, added: “It’s vital to our communities that we let people know that these career paths are open to anyone, regardless of their background”.

Newcastle is only the latest uni to run the Pathways programme, but the first in the north-east of England. The Sutton Trust already runs the scheme in 13 other universities — including Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester — with 500 places available nationwide for would-be lawyers.

The news comes as the Law Society welcomed ten new student solicitors onto its Diversity Access Scheme. The scholarship offers financial assistance with the Legal Practice Course (LPC), as well work experience, mentoring and networking opportunities.

Law Society vice president David Greene encouraged any aspiring solicitor facing “particular challenges on their way to qualification” to consider applying for a place.

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81 Comments

Charles

I’m sorry but when I instruct my solicitors it is not simply enough for them to be bright. In fact I am not really concerned about their academic achievements. Rightly or wrongly I am far more concerned about whether they will be able to talk to me about my main pastimes: sailing, cricket, good food and wine, and opera.

Anonymous

Slap some toff pastime on your TC/pupillage applications and you’ll earn some brownie points. I’ve seen it work. Hell, I’ve seen someone legally change their name and experience a significant change in career fortune.

Truth seeker

Changed their name to what? Something double barrelled?

Anonymous

Oh dear. The truly wealthy of the world usually get some flunky to instruct solicitors for them. Meanwhile, they prefer to relax on their motor yacht in the Mediterranean and couldn’t give a fig about cricket.

Stay humble. There are many layers above ‘lawyer’ and ‘employee’ who wouldn’t give you the time of day unless you’re putting in the hours for them. At the expense of your own family and social life, of course…

Anonymous

Tired of all the social mobility bollocks. Those with talent and drive can achieve wherever they come from. Spoon feeding the lower classes iand preferring them at entry to uni is not going to help anything other than discriminating against more able middle class children.

(109)(57)

Anonymous

Whilst I disagree with some of the measures taken in an attempt to balance the playing field, that does not mean we should have no mobility measures in place at all. It is not a given that middle class children are more able, and in many cases they have much less drive than lower class children who have had nothing but shit spoon-fed to them by everyone.

And no, not everyone with talent and drive can achieve something, regardless of their circumstances. That would imply that everyone who never amounted to anything just didn’t try hard enough. And that’s twat logic.

(59)(109)

Anonymous

Not really true though is it. No one wants a lawyer who sounds like Joey Essex or Jamie Carragher, even if they’ve got the legal brain of Lord Bingham and qualifications to prove it.

People want lawyers to be reasonably switched on and relatable, there’s no need to be a genius to knock out an SPA or Facility Agreement. Relatable for City clients means knowing that Tuscany is a place not a girl’s name, that rugby teams have 15 players not 13 and that proper schools have dormitories. Does that exclude working class aspirants? Of course, but that’s life.

Anonymous

Exactly. Middle class children tend to have far better social skills and appreciation of business mores.

Anonymous

And they don’t turn up at black tie events with attached winged collars.

Anonymous

As oppose to detached wing collars, or attached non-winged collars?

Anonymous

Attached non-wing collars. It is not the 1930s.

Anonymous

The collars can be attached or not attached, it is a matter of preference, as long as they are not wing collars.

Anonymous

Quite. People from state schools are gauche, chippy and badly educated.

Anonymous

Whereas you don’t sound chippy at all.

Anonymous

He doesn’t; you just don’t make sense. Local comp, followed by Warwick?

Anonymous

You sound like a prick mate and I’d knock you out you ponce

Anonymous

And you sound like an intellectually substandard thug – and criminal.

Anonymous

Looks like its getting heated lads. How will Archibald Benedict Sutton IV deal with this uppity low-life working-class member of the proletariat?

Anonymous

Well, 10.26 given the dynastic nomenclature form to which you have referred is almost exclusively now an Americanism, we can work on the assumption that a) you did not know that and b) you are therefore from below the stairs. But a good example of how those without better breeding are liable to social faux pas.

Anonymous

I feel that’s a gross generalisation. I assume you’ve not had the experience of being a pupil in a state school, but many who come from state schools, myself included do not match your description. I don’t see why you link sophistication with education, when there is a far stronger correlation with family life, hobbies and upbringing. Considering most of the population come from a state school you surely can’t say that every one is ‘badly educated’, when many who come from a state school find themselves in jobs with high positions. Furthermore, while the problems of state schools are linked with budgeting and funding, a lot of it also comes from the management of state schools. If you insist on blaming someone for the upbringing of us state school peasants, then the management and governance would be a good start.

Anonymous

Hypocrisy at its finest

Anonymous

You sound somewhat bitter that you didn’t get the career you feel you deserved – so have decided to blame others’ success on social mobility initiatives (which of course only encourage access and do not guarantee outcomes) rather than face up to the fact that, however much your parents spent on your schooling, you’re either just not that bright, or not that hardworking. Perhaps neither.

Just a guess 🙂

Anonymous

oh dear you sound like you needed to start at the 60 yard line in a 100 yard race just to avoid coming last and then resent some one who started at the 150 yard line but made the podium…

still got your lpc guru notes in your desk drawer?

JT

TommyBoy

It is simply encouraging _access_ to university, not guaranteeing that those assisted students will get a certain grade.

If the students who take part in this programme go on to achieve a good degree – how does it affect you? It is 30 places.

Anonymous

It affects more talented middle class kids who are being squeezed out by inane diversity programmes, especially when the A level system is simply not good enough at delineating among the top tier applicants.

Anonymous

Do you have any evidence that these kids have been squeezed out, or otherwise disadvantaged? If they’re so capable, more so than lower class kids, they’ll be fine – right?

Anonymous

God, these socialists push inane preferential entrance policies and then deny them when it suits.

Anonymous

Good. Just make sure they don’t end up at mid-market crumbs paying UK city firms. The likes of CMS, SPB, Mishcon will be full of upper-middle class elites at this rate, with the remainder being forced to MC/US to comfortably live in London.

Anonymous

Middle class children tend to be more intelligent on average than working class kids simply because IQ is significantly genetically driven.

Anonymous

Even if the science is correct – that assumes middle class people are smart in the first place? Wouldn’t back that 🤔

Anonymous

Save that there is a massive correlation between IQ and earnings. So that does back that.

Anonymous

Absolutely. And the drive to get less intelligent, state school plebs into university at the expense of private school children, just means that the brightest and best educated are excluded. Great plan for a successful Britain.

Anonymous

But since politicians hanker after the middle working class swing vote they dare not ever acknowledge to these people that their children do not do so well because they are born with genetic disadvantages when it comes to intelligence. Hence the tripe we see from the do-gooders on this thread goes uncorrected.

Benny Goodman

Why not set the decisive tests for career progression when children are toddlers. If genetics really were decisive, that would produce precisely the same results as you would get by making the bottleneck at post-university job applications.

Why do (mostly) upper middle-class parents spend a fortune sending their children to private school; and why do privately educated students develop a sense of entitlement to access to a good university? Neither appears consistent with a hypothesis that such children possess an intrinsic, genetic intellectual superiority. Both phenomena would be unnecessary to such a child, but would be helpful for a child that might not otherwise cut it.

Anonymous

Because lower class parents are stupid and feckless, and therefore think it is fine to consign their children to the dustbin of the state education system. Middle class parents, being clever and having a sense of responsibility, have the money and the disposition to give their children an education.

Libeturd Leftie

All this talk of genetics and intelligence is misguided and wrong. What do you means by intelligence anyway?

I suspect you think “well heeled breeding/rearing” is the same as intelligence, it is not.

What you are really arguing is since most people in these circles look like me, are from my background and social caste, I am best/more suited for this line of work, than someone of a different social caste who does not share my background, advantages (real or perceived) or interests.

Anonymous

One does not spend money on a good public school education for better teaching, that is the myth the chip on the shoulder lower classes believe. No, one spends the money to ensure that one’s children have friends whose parents come from the upper socio-economic tiers. The socio-economic status of one’s school friends in the most consistent and persistent marker for a huge range of positive end of life outcomes.

If one cannot afford even a modest provincial day school and have to go the state route then nudging children towards friends with richer parents and away from the poorer kids is statistically proven to be the best strategy a parent can adopt whatever socio-economic class from which they come.

Benny Goodman

Anonymous at 2:53pm, as to the benefits as you characterise them, that is an honest and internally coherent position that I think captures the nub of what others have been tiptoeing around. But let’s just not pretend that what you describe has anything to do with merit, or intelligence, or (for many if not most jobs) what it takes to be good at a challenging job.

I also think it is a bit OTT to say that it is a myth that good teaching is not part of the appeal of a public school education. Generally, paying a lot more for something (particularly where profit is taken out of the picture) will produce a better product, all other things being equal. Certainly the better private schools in this country do provide an excellent education, as well as the other benefits you describe.

Anonymous

4.13, the evidence is that when one evens out the other factors, including ability, there is no or very little measurable outcome advantage in terms of results as between private, grammar or comprehensive educations. It seems wrong, but the data is surprisingly consistent. It certainly is far less of a difference that fee paying parents believe it to be.

Anonymous

Anyone who starts a sentence with “one” is a cunt

Truth seeker

Your points does hold merit. An individual’s social group
does indeed heavily influence where they ends up on life. However you said ‘statistically’… care to point us towards this information?

Anonymous

How’s the TC at Weinstein, Neesom & Sons coming along?

Anonymous

The majority of the Oxbridge student body are state school educated. They have achieved far more than their fellow public school students. In many cases, it is the public school students who are the least intelligent at the top universities.

Anonymous

Classic LC Friday bants on here. Love it!

Anonymous

The level of ignorance and the chippy attitude demonstrated above by self-regarding middle class “intellectuals” towards the proletariat moving up is staggering.

Its typical arrogant presumption of a self-selecting group of lawyers/worthies in the City, who can be rightly pigeon holed as a bunch of “Hampstead Dinner Party” type c*nts that think because they were born in certain circumstances, to certain parents, that in some way makes them more capable or meritorious than others.

Total shite.

Anonymous

Agreed, it’s disgusting. Although I have a strong feeling that half of the above are trolling. Another sizeable number are probably children themselves, barely out of their LL.Bs.

Anonymous

Well in my case you would be wrong on all counts. But stick with the ad hominem stuff, all your side of the “debate” have done that so far.

Anonymous

That’s right: attack the person and not the argument. A sign you know you’re wrong.

Anonymous

Referring to an entire class of people as being genetically inferior, deserving of their circumstances and not entitled to any advantages is wrong. There is no need for further argument on the subject. Anyone making such comments is quite clearly a dickhead, who I doubt would make such comments if their identity were disclosed.

Anonymous

“There is no need for further argument on the subject.” Another leftist trying to shut down debate when the facts do not suit them rather than debating on the evidence. Typical of them.

Anonymous

Quite. More ad hominem attacks in the knowing absence of reasoned argument.

Libeturd Leftie

What evidence, mealy mouthed pseudo-scientific mumble jumbled spewed as empirical fact? This trick is as old as time itself. Only those that are weakminded fall for such parlour tricks.

Anonymous

The leftist way.

Anonymous

Wow. I really hope that these comments are trolls. As someone who found there way into the legal profession through one of these schemes (with it pushing me to gain a place at Cambridge then get a TC on graduation), these comments are massively disheartening.

Anonymous

They’re trolls, but they’re not a million miles off reality.

Not sure what level you’re at, but when you hit that 6/7 PQE where partner track noticeably shift away from the rest of the Associates, you’ll realise “clubbable” is the key skill the partners are looking for. That usually means privately educated and certainly with a particular set of interests.

Not much you can do about in a firm, as clients know the legal skills of one corporate/finance lawyer are much the same as any other. At the bar you might have more chance of getting to the top on raw intellectual talent (Paul Gott for example), but most QCs are pretty posh.

Benny Goodman

Anon @ 9:13 – don’t be disheartened – (obviously) there are state school educated people at every level in the very best chambers and law firms (and in the senior judiciary), they may just not bleat on about it. Yes, the privately-educated are over-represented but that is not news. Certainly at the top end, law is a pretty meritocratic field and practitioners make their names by their ability, not by the school they attended.

Anonymous

Private school people are not over represented. It is only right that there are more of them than state school people, because they are brighter and better educated, and clients want and deserve the best.

Anonymous

“Over-represented”. Sigh.

Benny Goodman

I just meant statistically over-represented, given the proportion of the school age population they represent. Look up the definition of the term. No value judgment intended. Such sensitivity…

Anonymous

No, not over-represented when one is talking about ability. That is what is being said about the genetic aspects of IQ. High IQ = higher income, higher income = more intelligent children. Simples.

Anonymous

Jesus this is a terrible comment section. Not sure if it’s all trolling and I’ve missed the point, but the pomposity is obscene

Anonymous

All well and good. What is nonsense is giving university places to less qualified or even equally qualified students simply because of their postcode or them going to a school with many poorly performing students. The tosh Oxford has started to promote in a pathetic effort to boost state school enrolment as if it were a per se good was a disgrace.

Anonymous

I stopped giving to my college’s annual funding drive after that Oxford announcement. The entire place seems obsessed by the inane state school / public school percentage rather than focusing on educating the best.

Anonymous

And if anyone wonders wonder why the revelation came we can tell them that it was because you need to boat in order to practice the law.

The LAW the thing that is meant to give an equal hearing to every man woman and child.

And oh no the poor kids had bad manners. whereas espousing eugenics and psudo science class=IQ “theory” is just top draw cricket lads

Anonymous

“Eugenics and pseudo-science” – or as the science community calls it, science: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ

The direction of data is firmly towards higher end of the heritability window.

Sorry, buddy, I came for a working class background and made it. This nonsense that somehow there are barriers is embarrassing, insulting and patronising.

Barristers are best

If IQ is genetic, why, on average does each generation show something like a 10 point increase in score? Really, IQ scores can in part be ascribed to improvements in education.

The comments section on here is a disgrace. It amazes me that these NQ city solicitors commenting here, who have probably not had an original thought their entire lives, consider themselves masters of the universe.

Those with talent should come to the bar. I’m so glad I can take my phone of the hook and no answer your calls. And before you ask… Less than 5 years practising, billing £340,000 with at least a 50% county court practice.

Anonymous

They should, but out-of-date recruitment practices and that everlasting whiff of afternoon teas and Pimms on the lawn puts a lot of people off.

Barristers are best

At some, yes.

However, the talented and ambitious can still achieve financial success by starting at a common law set doing crime and quicky focusing on civil work and move up the ranks to better sets

Nick

It is true, that those from lower income families and lower social classes have more difficulty adjusting to the rigours of a career in law

Straight outta Compton

Fuck off back to your wellbeing group

Anonymous

And you should start going back to that anger management group. We all know it is self-loathing turned outwards, dearie.

Anonymous

I don’t programmes that offer advice on applications etc. I have a real problem with universities or employers taking into account postcodes etc when reviewing applications. People are having to add flats in high scoring areas to their buy to let portfolios for future application washing.

Anon

The commenters who have a problem with this scheme are just feeling threatened by the idea that inherited wealth may not be enough to secure a prestigious job one day. They are clearly insecure about their own intellectual ability and probably don’t want to face the fact that without wealthy families they would not have achieved what they have. Anyone confident in their own competence could not have a problem with opening pathways for other excellent people.

Anonymous

Hardly. The problem is that postcodes are becoming more important than qualifications. Quality is being diluted because of virtue signalling.

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