Widening access to the legal profession is a challenge, and one we are determined to address – starting with school children.
In 2014 we launched a schools debating competition to raise awareness of the profession, and demonstrate how engaging and rewarding a legal career can be. With support from East London Business Alliance, our first competition hosted over 40 students from eight secondary schools in Newham and Waltham Forest, two of London’s most disadvantaged areas.
Our people teamed up with volunteers from several of our clients including BP, Zurich Financial Services, RSA, KPMG and Costain to coach the children in advance of the competition, as well as to support the event itself which we hosted at our London office.
This event is great fun and truly inspirational. The commitment the pupils make in terms of preparation, thought and inspiration is outstanding. The children we work with have a real talent for debating and I hope that these types of event will give them a lot of confidence - and maybe even a taste for a career in law and advocacy.
On the day, the teams debated several motions on issues that affect young people in front of a panel of judges which comprised a General Counsel, a Supreme Court Justice and our Senior Partner. The final debate, on the theme of whether students should be required to perform a period of community service, was won by a team of students from Newham’s Plashet School.
Since 2014 the tournament has gone from strength-to-strength, with organisations including the Financial Times, HSBC, Tesco Plc and Veolia and offering mentors to support the debate teams.