In October the Faculty of Law welcomed the first cohort of 35 students taking part in the new Pathways to Law Programme which is being run with the support from the Sutton Trust, the Legal Education Foundation and the Undergraduate Admissions office.

In 2006, the £1.5m Pathways to Law programme was developed by The Sutton Trust and The Legal Education Foundation (then the College of Law), to raise the aspirations of young people and to give them the confidence to pursue a career in law.

The pathways project was first initiated at Edinburgh University in 2001 with their ‘Pathways into the Professions’ programme; a project that encouraged progression into various professional courses including law, medicine, veterinary medicine and architecture. Supported by the Sutton Trust the programme proved a great success and was rolled out into the University’s widening participation programme. In 2002, the College of Law and the Sutton Trust then joined forces to run the ‘Law and Society’ winter school at the London School of Economics (LSE) and then in 2005 the college funded research undertaken by the Trust to establish ‘the Educational Backgrounds of the UK’s Top Solicitors, Barristers and Judges’.

The research showed that the high-status positions within the legal profession were drawn from a narrow range of social backgrounds and that firms were not making full use of the talents of the young people from non-privileged homes. The research found that 68% of UK-educated barristers and 75% of UK-educated judges were educated in the fee-paying sector, despite the fact that overall only 7% of young people attend schools and colleges in this sector.

A year after the research findings, the College of Law and the Sutton Trust agreed to establish the 'Pathways to Law' programme with their main aim being to increase social mobility through education. The project was initially supported by seven higher-education partners, including Leeds University, LSE, University College London, Manchester University,  Southampton University, Warwick University and Bristol University, who are all members of the Russell Group. The programme is also supported nationally by the College of Law and the Brightside Trust, as well as both national and international law firms. However, in September 2013, Oxford University, along with Nottingham University, Nottingham Trent University, Essex University and Exeter University, joined the Pathways to Law Programme. Read more

The main aim of the Pathways to Law programme is to give support and encouragement to academically-able students, in Year 12 and Year 13, from non-privileged backgrounds who are interested in law, an access to both university and the legal profession. Each year we take on a new cohort of 35 Year 12 students from our local area and we support them through their A-Levels. Our local area covers schools in the local authority areas of Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, West Berkshire, Swindon and Hillingdon.

In order to qualify for a place the students are selected on the following criteria:

• Be starting Year 12;
• Have gained 5 A’s or 5 A*’s at GCSE;
• Have an interest in studying law and/or law as a career;
• Be the first in their immediate family to consider going to university or be eligible for free school meals;
• Attend a state school or college;
• Are willing and able to commit to the programme for two years.

In addition, preference will be given to those students who are:

• In schools with below average levels of attainment/progression to University;
• In schools with high free school meals;
• From areas where progression to university is low (defined by postcode);

The Pathways to Law 2013 programme is now closed for applications. The next cohort of students will be recruited in summer 2014.

The programme delivers a full and varied programme which includes:

• An introductory event - for parents and students, to learn more about the programme and the aims and objectives of the scheme;
• Legal Resources – an introduction to the courts, case law, the Bodleian library and Oxford University;
• Work Placement – all students will attend a pre-placement workshop followed by work experience with a local firm in either the February half-term, Easter or summer holidays;
• A range of sessions - over the two years, a diverse range of topics including choosing and applying to a university, CV and interview techniques, subject-specific revision sessions and workshops on different areas of the law;
• E-mentoring – all students are paired up with an undergraduate law student as a mentor during the programme. This is provided through the Brightside Trust;
• Mooting – all students take part in a mock moot trial;
• Law firm visit – this is an opportunity to  learn more about life as a solicitor;
• Inner Temple and Royal Courts of Justice visit in London – this is an opportunity to learn more about a career as a barrister;
• Open days  - at the other Pathways universities as well as the host university;
• National conference -  students from all over the country, taking part in Pathways to law, attend a 3 day residential at Warwick university;
• Graduation – all students will attend a graduation ceremony upon completion of the programme;

For further information regarding the Pathways to Law Programme, or if you are interested in providing a work placement, please contact Michelle Robb, Pathways Co-ordinator,