Year-long programme for aspiring lawyers at Manchester, Manchester Met, Bristol and Salford universities
Magic circle firm Linklaters has partnered with the Black Solicitors Network to establish a programme of support to black aspiring lawyers from “non-traditional” or “less advantaged” backgrounds at Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Bristol and Salford universities.
The Grassroots Programme, which starts in September 2021 and will span the course of one academic year, is designed to “break down the barriers for Black university students in realising a career in law”. It consists of a series of careers and skills workshops delivered by legal professionals drawn from the Black Solicitors Network.
The modules include workshops on negotiation, legal drafting and advocacy, in addition to, sessions on aptitude testing, interviews, networking and personal brand. The students will also receive support with applying to Linklaters’ vacation scheme and training contract programmes.
The programme is an extension of Linklaters’ efforts to ensure greater representation of Black and minority ethnic individuals in the legal sector. Linklaters recently adopted a ‘Black hair code’ to protect the rights of staff who choose to wear afro hairstyles in the workplace. The firm has also set “aspirational” targets, aiming to have 35% minority ethnic trainees in the UK, including 10% Black trainees, each year.
Mark Drury, trainee recruitment partner at Linklaters, said:
“We have a longstanding relationship with the Black Solicitors Network and are delighted to be partnering with them once again to reach Black students from a range of universities so we can further our aim to ensure equality of access to Linklaters and to the broader legal profession.”
Paulette Mastin, chair of the Black Solicitors Network and counsel at Linklaters, added: “In order to bring about positive change and improve ethnic diversity in the legal sector we need to create a level playing field for all. This Programme is specifically designed to unlock the potential for career success and break down the barriers for Black university students in realising a career in law.”
The Black Solicitors Network is the primary voice of Black solicitors in the UK. In June last year, the Network urged law firm leaders to “walk the talk” on diversity and “create a level playing field for all”.
Just this month Gowling WLG announced its partners are to help fund Black students through law school as part of a tie-up with Birmingham University. The firm will also offer them work placements and ongoing mentoring support. This follows a number of law firms and organisations signalling intentions to up their diversity efforts either through financial support, mentoring and even reverse mentoring, schemes, internships and scholarships.