Fifteen talented aspiring solicitors have been awarded a coveted scholarship by the Law Society of England and Wales’ Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) to help them qualify.
DAS aims to improve social mobility in the profession by supporting those who face exceptional social, educational, financial or personal obstacles to become solicitors. To date, the scheme has helped nearly 250 aspiring solicitors start their legal careers.
Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: 'In recognition of the increased need for funding we are thrilled to welcome 15 new students onto the Diversity Access Scheme and support them in becoming solicitors. I am grateful to our sponsors, the Legal Education Trust and others who have made this all possible. The 2021 cohort are unique because we have awardees undertaking the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and the Legal Practice Course (LPC) as there will be a gradual transition from the current system to the SQE from September.'
One of the 2021 DAS awardees, Erica San, said: 'Becoming a legal aid lawyer has become increasingly difficult in recent years, as there exists little funding for the expensive routes to qualification, yet increasing competition. There is an expectation in this area that candidates should gain experience, yet most opportunities are unpaid. This means that the legal aid profession is becoming less and less representative of the people it serves.
'After securing a training contract at a legal aid firm without the means to fund my LPC, I was at a loss as to how I could fund this course myself. I am grateful to the Law Society for awarding me the DAS scholarship, as this removed the final hurdle between me and qualifying as a solicitor.
'I am excited and honoured to become part of the DAS community, and I hope that I will be able to work with the Law Society to promote social mobility, diversity and inclusion in the profession.'
Applications for the next cohort of Diversity Access Scheme awards will open in February 2022.