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CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS BME Conference July 8 th 2010 Jane Stapleford www.leedsmet.ac.uk/research/crdp.

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Presentation on theme: "CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS BME Conference July 8 th 2010 Jane Stapleford www.leedsmet.ac.uk/research/crdp."— Presentation transcript:

1 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS BME Conference July 8 th 2010 Jane Stapleford

2 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS 1.Brief introduction to research conducted by Professor Hilary Sommerlad and others in the Centre for Research into Diversity in the Professions (CRDP), into the barriers faced by students who do not fit the professional norm of the legal profession 2. to explore the ways in which the employability of these non- traditional graduates might be enhanced within the law curriculum.

3 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Law is particularly attractive to BME and other non-traditional students and new university Law Schools have successful examples of widening participation Law professional bodies stress need for diversity in the profession BUT

4 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Unequal opportunities for graduates from new universities, preference for graduates from prestigious universities Barriers to non- traditional students persist - the legal profession has traditionally maintained status & coherence through exclusion of outsiders and strong professional socialisation Law firms continue preference for inherited cultural capital and disregard the skills / attributes which legal practice actually demands Promotion within the profession for those who do not fit the norm is limited

5 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Research Questions: What attracts non- traditional students to law? What do they know about the subject and employment prospects? If they want to be lawyers, how do they imagine the profession, and their career trajectories? How do they gain entry and into which sectors? If they gain entry: will they be obliged to enact a normative professional identity? or will they challenge it?

6 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS

7 Media generated understandings of field and thus unrealistic expectations and aspirations: I used to watch LA Law so I sort of knew what a lawyer was.. Money and status common motivation and aspiration to enter corporate sector, partnership, high salary: you have more money and…more respect Only 5% aspired to legal aid practice: I was interested in social justice but I cant afford to go into that

8 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Law was so alien.. Very middle class a difficult transition.. The Latin, the language.. & remembering all the cases once youve got your head round legal terms & words you find yourself talking to people and they dont understand...you get respect...I like that...I know it sounds a bit snobbish.. Solicitors visualised as alien too - of a different ethnicity, gender & class – as snobs - yet turning into snobs seemed to be one of laws attractions:

9 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Non traditional students were asked to: draw what comes into your mind when you think of a lawyer

10 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS

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14 They dont conceptualise anything that resembles themselves!

15 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS linguistic skills- talk the talk critical understanding local labour market walk the walk think like a lawyer understand the culture other prospects develop cultural capital

16 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Sommerlad, H.(2007)Researching and theorizing the processes of professional identity formation, Journal of Law & Society, 34, 2, pp

17 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS theres a pecking order so some universities wont be interested in non traditional students or those with less than a first..a wiser employer might judge people on competencies..this universitys students could compete equally on that.. For example team work skills.. Skills picked up as result of lots of part-time jobs.. Careers Officer from a new university

18 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Address issues revealed by research before LPC – begin with finding out about students – questionnaire work on links with employers need for a bridge between student and employer perceptions enhance employability; eg: Where possible teach doctrinal law through skills development, addressing also those issues of dress, language etc. Teach nature of profession & PDP include assessed exercises requiring students to get to know local labour market Develop mechanisms to assist students to get work experience

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20 Undergraduate curriculum change Work with employers Engagement with senior policy makers

21 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Employer Focus Groups their views on diversity & equality sensitise them to issues their requirements for ideal trainee/lawyer involve them in curriculum design & delivery raise profile of Leeds Mets student body

22 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Questions posed to the participants generated information relating to employability of applicants to law firms. These were: What would you look for in a trainee? What are the key attributes and skills needed to be a successful solicitor? What topics/skills do you feel should be addressed by the Law School in order to produce effective trainees?

23 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS oral communication -telephone intuition streetwise negotiation good research skills leadership good letter writing presentation skills organisation skills

24 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS languages extra- curricular activities something different work experience personality spark ability to recognise when they dont know business acumen scientific background

25 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Business strategy Strong view that nowadays students of law should study Business strategy and strategic planning. Students should gain an understanding of business and be made aware of the business world as most law firms these days have to compete as businesses in a competitive market.

26 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS understanding of local labour market researched the firm accurate spelling appropriate dress- tidy, shiny shoes something to say Interviewee

27 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Reflective workbook Recording of experience and evidence Reflecting on group project and career strategy Reflection Real-life group project Lawyers as mentors Team work Group assessment Work Project Research careers in legal profession Visit courts and law firms Inputs- lectures/ seminars from experts Personal Career Strategy Career/Personal Development

28 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Personal development planning Expectations of employers Diversity in the legal profession Interpersonal perception, prejudice Self- awareness CV development Psychology of dress Applications and gaining training contracts Presentation skills The skills of reflection

29 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS I thought the Personal Career Strategy was an excellent idea and was impressed with how the students had researched their area of employment, evaluated it and linked their own preparation and skills to employment criteria

30 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Throughout this module there has been a heavy emphasis on reflection and similarly, the period has been a reflective episode for me as an individual. All in all, this has been a really insightful module that has not only been academically rewarding, but also mentally rewarding regarding my future career goals and aspirations.

31 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS an international law firm, one of the largest full service law firms in the world, acting for the public and private sector. 40 offices across UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. take corporate responsibility and diversity very seriously keen to work with us

32 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS An example from Year 2 A trusts based project including writing a letter to a beneficiary who had a contingent interest under a fixed trust but had particular family and social needs and was therefore requesting both maintenance and an advancement of capital. The letter requires that the students: demonstrate the ability to explain to the lay beneficiary the principles of law involved handle difficult emotional issues demonstrating empathy and understanding.

33 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Leeds Law School staff mark the projects and identify the best six letters which are then discussed by Eversheds staff and Law School to agree the winner. A feedback session including tutors and Eversheds staff. Eversheds present a certificate and small prize to the writers of the best letters.

34 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS An example from Year 2 Research project based on employment law, in particular issues of discrimination and diversity including ethics and professional conduct. Students produce a research report focusing on these issues within a particular legal or business context of their choice (subject to approval by the module leader). Eversheds, in conjunction with Leeds Law School, deliver lectures and some lectures delivered in conjunction with other smaller local law firms.

35 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS A proposed activity for Year 3 Leeds Met run mock assessment centres which would be filmed. Using the films Eversheds and other law firms participate in a feedback session to all students.

36 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS insight into the legal profession legal skills employability skills eg. team working, action planning, organising contacts increased realism Student

37 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Continued resistance from Law School staff Prof Hilary Sommerlad leaving Leeds Met CRDP may not continue The model is being adapted for use by other professional courses- eg psychology

38 CENTRE FOR RESEARCH INTO DIVERSITY IN THE PROFESSIONS Jane Stapleford


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