Linklaters launches social mobility programme with Wadham College, University of Oxford

Aspiring lawyers from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds will be supported by magic circle law firm Linklaters and Wadham College, University of Oxford as part of a newly launched social mobility programme. The programme will tackle existing barriers that arise at critical stages of an individual’s journey into law.

Candidates eligible for the two-year pre-university programme will receive tutoring and support with critical thinking from Wadham law tutors, plus university application advice. Meanwhile, the programme includes career guidance and “targeted support” for Linklaters’ trainee recruitment programmes for current law undergraduates, who will also be invited to a series of networking events with Wadham alumni and Linklaters.

Linklaters’ Trainee Recruiter Partner Fionnghuala Griggs said: “Improving the socio-economic diversity of the legal profession requires action at every stage of the career cycle, starting from school level. The programme will look to ensure that talented candidates can achieve their full potential and aren’t excluded before they even have a chance to embark on their legal career just because they may be from a less privileged background. An individual’s socio-economic circumstances should not be a barrier to a successful career in the law.”

Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald added: “The lack of socio-economic diversity in law at university and beyond is due to a range of factors affecting an individual’s path to university, success on course and career prospects after graduation. This pioneering programme is designed to address these factors, and we are grateful to Linklaters for their transformative support.”

Pupils eligible for the programme will be sixth formers from non-selective state schools in Wadham’s link regions, including Bedford, Cambridgeshire, Central Bedfordshire, Luton and the London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Hackney, Havering, Islington, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets. A set of eligibility criteria has been developed for the programme and will focus on location, performance at GCSE, school type and widening participation criteria – they must also be eligible for free school meals. Pupils selected to take part in the social mobility programme “should be reflective of the ethnic diversity” of Wadham’s link regions.

The programme is an extension to Linklaters’ other social mobility-focused work, Making Links. The firm has also recently partnered with the Black Solicitors Network to develop a one-year programme to support Black aspiring lawyers from Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Bristol and Salford universities who are from “non-traditional” or “less advantaged” backgrounds. Due to start in September 2021, the programme will bring together core skills training and developmental opportunities; there will be workshops on negotiation, legal drafting and advocacy, and the firm will also support students with vacation scheme and training contract applications.