The Sutton Trust has expanded its Pathways to Law programme to include GCSE students.
The scheme, launched 10 years ago and funded by the Legal Education Foundation, provides mentoring and advice to academically gifted aspiring lawyers from non-privileged homes.
Previously, it only targeted sixth-formers, but as of August it will provide support for GCSE students in years 10 and 11 as well.
Some 1,800 students will receive a four-year programme of support, which will include assistance when applying for training contracts, CV and interview techniques, revision sessions, e-mentoring from undergraduate law students and work experience in the legal sector
The programme is run by 13 universities who partner with the Sutton Trust. Four new universities have signed up for 2016: the University of Roehampton, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Leicester, and the University of Liverpool. The others are Bristol, Exeter, Leeds, the London School of Economics, Manchester, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Oxford and Warwick.
Chairman of the Sutton Trust Sir Peter Lampl said: “Our research has shown that there is still a big social mobility issue within the legal sector. Greater access to a wider pool of diverse talent will deliver real benefits for employers and employees alike. This is why Pathways to Law is so important.”
Last year, the Sutton Trust looked at the background of judges and top QCs and found that 74 per cent of the judges and 71 per cent of the QCs went to private school. Meanwhile, a separate study by the London School of Economics found that, Oxbridge-educated, London-based male barristers are still far more likely to make silk, despite a major reform to the QC appointments system in 2004 designed to make things fairer.