The shortlist for a newly established set of awards to honour social mobility has highlighted the strides the legal profession has taken to become more diverse.
Law firms and solicitors dominate the shortlist for the inaugural UK Social Mobility Awards. Winners will be announced in London in October.
In-house solicitor Barry Matthews, director of legal and third party sales at ITV, and Sarah Hyde, of counsel at international firm CMS, are among six finalists for the 'outstanding achievement of the year' award.
Matthews founded the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, which has been nominated for the 'innovation award'. Matthews told the Gazette: 'I'm extremely honoured to make the shortlist, although the scheme we have created is a true partnership and I will be representing the 70 law firms, commercial organisations and professional sports clubs all committed to creating a meritocratic ennvironment for the solicitors of the future.'
Hyde is behind CMS's bursary scheme, now in its sixth year, which provides aspiring young lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds with financial help, work experience and support. One of the scheme's first students will begin her training contract at the firm this year.
CMS said the scheme's success 'comes as a direct result of Sarah's initial idea, passion and devotion'.
Claudine Adeyemi, a real estate associate at London firm Mishcon de Reya, has been nominated for the 'rising star of the year' award. In her spare time, Adeyemi founded and runs The Student Development Co, CIC, a non-profit organisation which provides career support to 16-24 year olds from less privileged backgrounds. She also created a mobile app, Career Ear, to improve access to quality careers advice.
Adeyemi said it was 'incredible' that her work with The Student Development Co and everything she has achieved to improve young people's experiences have been recognised.
Daniel Levy, partner and head of Mishcon de Reya's property litigation group, said Adeyemi is 'passionate about helping young people reach their potential. These kind of pro-active social initiatives, in addition to the social impact opportunities we give our people, are something we greatly encourage and celebrate as a firm'.
James Wickes, a partner at City firm RPC, is one of five nominees for 'mentor of the year'. Wickes co-founded Limitless London a decade ago, which provides career guidance to school pupils in Wickes' hometown of Barking and Dagenham.
Wickes said: 'I set it up because I didn't have any real guidance when I was at school in terms of moving on to higher education or employment. When I got to university, I realised the lack of opportunities I had.'
Over the past four years Limitless London has focused on helping Year 10 students. Wickes said the charity wanted to 'get the message across' at an earlier stage to help pupils 'turn their predicted Cs into As'.
The Ministry of Justice has been nominated for 'organisation of the year'.
International firm Simmons & Simmons, the Law Society of Scotland and the Legal Social Mobility Partnership will be competing for the 'innovation award'.
Magic circle firm Clifford Chance and international firm Pinsent Masons have been shortlisted for the 'recruitment programme of the year' award.
National firm Browne Jacobson is nominated for 'progression programme of the year'.
Magic circle firm Allen & Overy and international firm Herbert Smith Freehills have been shortlisted for 'community programme of the year'.