City firm DWF has set up a diversity scheme for aspiring black, Asian and minority ethnic solicitors to gain work experience in commercial law.
The firm has worked with the organisation Aspiring Solicitors to develop the Ethnic Minority Access Scheme. Six individuals will do one week of paid work experience in the firm’s commercial practice. The placement will be done virtually, or in person where possible, in the London or Manchester office. The successful applicants will be paid between £250 and £275 for their placement. They will do live legal work and be paired with a supervisor and mentor.
To be eligible, applicants must not have accepted a training contract with any firm or legal team. They will be in the penultimate year of their law degree or final year of their non-law degree, but GDL and LPC students, graduates and those changing careers can also apply.
The first cohort will do their work experience in April. DWF will run the programme yearly.
Seema Bains, head of DWF’s diversity and inclusion leadership group, said: ‘Unfortunately our industry still does not reflect the society we live in, and that really needs to change. This targeted programme will hopefully give candidates the opportunity they need to gain exposure to commercial law in practice and help progress their legal careers. We’re excited to begin the application process soon and welcome the first group of candidates in April 2021.’
Aspiring Solicitors was set up in 2013 by Chris White, who was an associate at Norton Rose Fulbright, to increase diversity in the legal profession.
White said: ‘This scheme demonstrates a tangible commitment and focus for improving access and opportunities for underrepresented groups in the profession. Both Aspiring Solicitors and DWF look forward to the positive results that flow from this scheme.’