Widening Participation programme puts aspiring law students in the dock

Aspiring law students from non-privileged backgrounds were given the opportunity to view the inner workings of the legal system last week, thanks to a programme run by the University of Leicester and the Sutton Trust.

The Crown Prosecution Service East Midlands created a bespoke 3 day work placement for Pathways to Law students, which gave Year 12 and 13 students a unique opportunity to experience the work of the CPS.

On the first day the students took part in a day of workshops, understanding the remit of the CPS, analysing case studies and acting as prosecutor themselves. On the second day they visited Nottingham Crown Court to observe and then discuss what they have seen with the prosecutors. On the final day they ‘cross-examined’ members of staff from across the CPS East Midlands. The University of Leicester would like to thank Janine Smith, Chief Crown Prosecutor, and Grace Moronfolu, Public Accountability & Confidence Manager for arranging the placement.

The University of Leicester has been selected to take part in the Sutton Trust’s Pathways to Law Programme for the 2016-17 academic year, which inspires and supports Year 12 and 13 students from non-privileged backgrounds who have an interest in a career in law and are academically-able. This programme, set up in 2006 by the Sutton Trust and The Legal Education Foundation, aims to widen access to the legal profession along with the support from major law firms.

The University welcomed its first cohort of 27 Year 12 students in November 2016 and during their spring half-term week, many of the students undertook a legal work placement as part of the Pathways programme. These work placements have been generously provided by local law firms such as Freeths, Emery Johnson Astills, Howes Percival and Eversheds. Some placements have also been offered by local judges and barristers, and by the Crown Prosecution Service East Midlands.

In addition to the work placement, the Pathways to Law programme includes many activities and events, including taster days and workshops, a summer school, access to an E-mentor and a trip to the Inner Temple in London. If the participants successfully complete the Pathways programme they are eligible for an alternative offer and scholarship at the University of Leicester.