The Law Society is to offer two training contracts in 2015 as part of its revamped Diversity Access Scheme (DAS).
The DAS has the aim of increasing social diversity in the profession “by supporting promising entrants from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who face exceptional obstacles to qualification.”
It provides ten awards providing financial assistance towards LPC fees, as well as work experience and mentoring support. However, in 2015 one ’DAS PLUS’ award will also be on offer, which will also include a guaranteed training contract at a Law Centre.
The Law Society’s in-house legal team will also offer a training contract in 2015 to an alumnus of the DAS scheme.
Law Society president Andrew Caplen said: “Guaranteeing training contracts at Law Centres not only protects access to justice, the scheme itself goes some way to improve the diversity of the legal profession.
“We also look forward to welcoming an exceptional candidate to work with us at the Law Society.
“A shortage of training contracts does make the legal profession a hard one to break into, but for many people applying to the Diversity Access Scheme, the prospect of getting on the LPC, never mind securing a contract, is incredibly remote due to the social and economic barriers they face. This is a depressing reality but one we should not ignore.”
In 2014, a total of 88 candidates applied for the DAS, with 13 eventually successful in gaining awards.
Of those 13, 11 were the first in their family to go to university and nine had been in reciept of free school meals. Four were caring for a child under 18 and three said they had a disability.
Successful applicants have included a former asylum seeker who came to England as an orphan at 17, a victim of domestic violence and someone who left an arranged marriage.
Although the 88 applications in 2014 represented a 20% increase the previous year, the Law Society noted that the scheme needs to ”increase the number of applicants it sees each year in order to increase its credibility as a talent pool for excellent students.”