BLD diversity programme offers hope to BME students

A record number of would-be lawyers took their first steps onto the legal career ladder by participating in the Legal Launch Pad (LLP) programme aimed at helping Black and Minority Ethnic students break into the profession.

Fifty-five students, who had been handpicked from hundreds of applicants to join the course, attended the LLP programme’s induction day yesterday (28 January).

Greenwich University student Vanessa Layton who managed to secure a place on the programme said: “BLD [Black Lawyers Directory] is working closely with law firms to help students like myself to enter the legal profession and gain professional experience, as well as mentors, networking and self-confidence. Vacation placements are scarce and hard to secure and Debo [Nwauz] has opened the doors for us, and all of us on the BLD.”

The project, now in its third year, is aimed at preparing students who want to secure a training contract or pupillage but, because of their family backgrounds or previous poor careers advice, are less informed about the different routes into the profession.

The lucky students will be offered at least one work placement at one of the participating organisations as well as being able to attend workshops organised throughout the year, which will focus on a range of issues including application forms, networking and interview techniques.

The LLP scheme is the brainchild of the Black Lawyers Directory’s founder and managing director Debo Nwauz. She said: “This year’s nine-month long programme is our best ever with new sponsors joining our existing roster. It’s been a delight for us and our sponsors to meet and welcome the new students who are brimming with enthusiasm and the eagerness to take off.”

And despite some sceptics claiming that students who take part in programmes such as this do not stand a chance of being accepted for a training contract more than five LLP participants from last year’s cohort have managed to secure jobs with the sponsor firms.

Organisations taking part in the programme include Allen & Overy, Barclays, Beachcroft, Berwin Leighton Paisner, DLA Piper, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Shoosmiths, Olswang, White & Case and No 5 Chambers.