pupil supervisor

The Inns of Court continue drive to promote access and social mobility

Immediate Release: The Inns of Court continue drive to promote access and social mobility

30 May 2012

Responding to the release of the Fair Access to Professional Careers, Patrick Maddams, Sub-Treasurer of The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, one of the four Inns of Court, said:

“We welcome this progress report and the recognition of the work the Inns of Court have been undertaking to promote access to the Bar. The Inns of Court between them now provide nearly £5 million per year in scholarships to ensure that financial need does not prevent capable students of studying for the Bar.

“The Inner Temple Schools Project has been listed as best practice for the professions, which is a testament to the commitment of our barrister and judicial members to this important project. (1).We work with a wide range of state schools and universities to ensure young people, particularly those from under-represented backgrounds, are aware of professional careers. Our programmes aim to ensure that talented students from all walks of life can reach their full potential at the Bar of England and Wales. However, we are not complacent and recognise there is still more to be done.”

Recent research has found that work experience is one of the most important factors in the career aspirations of undergraduate law students (2). Given this, the Inn recently launched the Pegasus Access Scheme that matches high-achieving university students from under-represented backgrounds in the profession with one of 50 partner chambers for formal ‘mini-pupillage’ placements (3). This is in addition to the many presentations and events across the UK for undergraduate students to inform them about the profession and to breakdown stereotypes and misconceptions about professional careers. We will be evaluating these projects to assure that our programmes are fulfilling their intended impact (4).

James Dingemans QC, Chair of the Inner Temple Outreach Committee and Head of 3 Hare Court, said:

"No one institution can address all of the issues surrounding social mobility and access to the professions, but everyone has a responsibility to do what can be done to break down any potential barriers to entry. Inner Temple is working with, and on behalf of, the profession to address some of these barriers."

The educational background of the senior judiciary has again been noted as cause for concern in this report. Jonathan Hirst QC, Treasurer of the Inner Temple, said:

“Given the length of training and practical experience required for judicial posts, the demographics of the most senior judiciary will take time to change. The independent Judicial Appointments Commission selects solely based on merit, while being mindful of the need to encourage a more diverse selection of candidates for appointment. Recent research shows that Circuit Judges come from much wider range of educational backgrounds, which reflects the fact that change is taking place at earlier judicial stages.”

Footnotes

Fair Access to Professional Careers: a progress report by the Independent Reviewer on Social Mobility and Child Poverty can be found at: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/sites/default/files/resources/IR_FairAccess_acc2.pdf

Inner Temple media enquiries should be directed to: adursi@innertemple.org.uk.

(1) The Inner Temple Schools Project was launched in 2008, working with the National Education Trust and the national Pathways to Law programme to provide school students with information and insight on the Bar.  Through this, over 1,000 students have visited the Inn and participated in a variety of activities. 

(2) Hardee, M (2012): Career Expectations of Students on Qualifying Law Degrees in England and Wales, Higher Education Academy. http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/disciplines/law/Hardee-Report-2012.pdf

(3) More information on the Pegasus Access Scheme can be found at: http://www.pegasus.me.

(4) The Inner Temple will be commissioning a PhD with Keele University over the next three-years looking at the impact of its outreach programmes and professional intervention in social mobility more broadly. This will ensure that its programmes are properly evaluated.

The Inner Temple

The Inner Temple is one of the four Inns of Court. The Inns of Court hold the exclusive responsibility to call candidates to practise law at the Bar of England and Wales.

The Inn has over 8,000 qualified members, including judges, barristers (both practising and non-practising) and pupils. Each year approximately 450 students apply to join the Inn with the intention of training for the Bar including from several overseas jurisdictions.

The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, Treasury Building, Inner Temple, London, EC4Y 7HL. www.innertemple.org.uk