Credit where it is due I read Pat McFadden's article ‘Breaking the class ceiling’ (see [2010] Gazette, 11 February, 10) with interest and some frustration.

I welcome government action to open access to all professions to those from all backgrounds. I welcome its intention to work with the professions and those schemes and initiatives which are already in place. I welcome the relaunch of the Gateways to the Professions Collaborative Forum.

However, yet again government – this time through the minister for business, innovation and skills – has failed to realise that there already exists within the legal profession considerable opportunity for social mobility.

The Institute of Legal Executives qualification of legal executive lawyer, and the close working between ILEX, the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority to maintain a non-graduate route to qualification as a solicitor, seem to have passed the minister by.

I have no doubt we can all do better. But it would be encouraging if the good practice long embraced by ILEX and the Law Society occasionally got the recognition it deserves.

Judith Gordon-Nichols, President, Institute of Legal Executives

Opportunity knocks at Taylor WessingPat McFadden, minister for business, innovation and skills, writes of the excellent projects being initiated by foundations and the government to provide more exposure for young people from non-traditional backgrounds to the legal profession.

But he fails to recognise that, in the testing economic climate, with law firms increasingly pressured to make cuts to their corporate social responsibility budgets, it is ever more difficult for firms to invest in outreach and to ensure that they attract the brightest and most talented young people, whatever their backgrounds.

Despite these challenges, law firms are finding innovative ways to promote social mobility in sustainable and cost-effective ways.

Future First, a social enterprise focused on increasing social mobility in the UK, has recently partnered with leading law firm Taylor Wessing to provide opportunities for young people studying at state schools. From volunteer placements in schools for Taylor Wessing staff, to opportunities for pupils to come in and shadow Taylor Wessing employees for a day, this partnership between the firm and Future First is an example of how organisations can come together creatively for their mutual benefit.

Opportunities are available for law firms to keep ensuring that they recruit the best and brightest from diverse backgrounds despite the recession. Firms and partners just need to ensure that these opportunities are grasped.

Jess Cordingly, Managing director, Future First

Pride and prejudiceI would wager that the state-educated junior lawyers whose social skills your anonymous writer claims to be ‘less developed’ (see [2010] Gazette, 18 February, 11), are actually simply uninterested in the art of sycophancy, and are unwilling and unable to tolerate his own peculiar brand of misinformed prejudice.

Laura Barton, Solicitor, Probert & Gray Solicitors, Neath

Learning curveIn seeking the aid of solicitors in eliminating social inequalities in the profession (see [2010] Gazette, 18 February, 11) Pat McFadden defies parody. This government has systematically wrecked state education, denying children from that sector the opportunity to compete academically with those from independent schools. It now looks to the profession to help sort out the resulting mess.

Solicitors do not recruit by class but by achievement. They expect to be able to assess an applicant’s abilities by reference to the qualifications contained in the curriculum vitae – not by having to undertake some kind of independent social audit of each candidate (which would in itself be potentially discriminatory). If the profession is less socially mobile than it used to be, the government should look to its education policy. Building grammar schools would be a good start.

Dr Julian Critchlow , Fenwick Elliott London

Intelligence gap

A few months ago you published a letter in which I suggested that those who chose to study law should be the ones to pay for it. I added that, even at its present cost, the legal practice course may be underpriced.

It is the reality for many graduates of the LPC and indeed the bar vocational course that their legal careers end there and then because of the lack of training places.

To put it bluntly, the state education system of this country does not prepare pupils for the professions but rather focuses on mindlessly leading children to believe that they can succeed at anything they want to do, regardless of their innate ability (or more often inability).

It is time to stop the social engineering, bring an end to wailings of the ever bleating 'disadvantaged' factions of society and accept that it does take intelligence, ability and motivation to be a successful solicitor, and that this has a cost which should be borne by the individual aspiring to join the profession. ‘Equality’, whatever it is, cannot be achieved because we all have different aptitudes and abilities which only the intelligent can exploit to achieve.

All this nonsense can end at once - no training contract, no LPC.

Eugene MacLaughlin, Scully and Sowerbutts, London