Talent rather than background should determine students’ ability to enter professions like law. As an extension of our commitment to this principle, Brodies sponsored the recent ‘Careers in Law’ conference, outlining careers in the legal sector to over 120 young people from across SIMD areas, held at Glasgow City Chambers and several of our trainee solicitors went along to discuss their practice areas with the young people who attended.
Even as trainee solicitors with some experience by now of court appearances and larger commercial transactions, the grand setting of Glasgow City Chambers was quite daunting. The introductory speech of the event by Lady Rae soon put us and the school pupils at ease – the message of the day was that anyone could become a lawyer, and that the pupils should aim big and focus on how rewarding and interesting a career in law can be. With this message embedded in the pupil’s heads, we then set about informing them of all the practice areas open to a law graduate.
There was a measure of responsibility on our shoulders. For many people, the life of a lawyer is as seen in hit TV shows Suits or The Bill (the latter was sadly a reference that went over the heads of many of the pupils at the event). It was our job to inform and inspire; to pique interest in what are ultimately lesser known areas of the law. It was also our job to temper that inspiration with the information that it can be a long, hard route to even get to the trainee solicitor stage.
Several of us were from the same areas as the kids attending – one pupil described her surprise that we were “just so ordinary like us”. Sharing these connections brought the experiences we were describing much closer to home and helped create little sparks of understanding and inspiration. In the feedback, one pupil said that the route to becoming a lawyer seemed a lot clearer now he/she knew that others had made the same journey. Ultimately this is what the day was about – not just imparting knowledge about our areas of law, but talking about the multitude of routes we took to get there.
It was also clear that they were deeply engaged – we had several tough questions about both legal and personal issues. The fact that the pupils felt able to use us as a sounding board and not hold anything back was one of the most inspiring things about the event and if they can keep that knack of asking such piercing questions then Scotland will have some very high quality lawyers in future.
One of our partners and Wendy Murphy, our HR lead on graduate recruitment, also attended the event. The importance Brodies placed on the event reflects that a large part of our success as a firm is generated by our diversity – our practice is all the more balanced and the service to our clients better delivered because we focus so heavily on recruiting and retaining the best lawyers, regardless of background.
Another example is Brodies’ founding membership of the PRIME programme, through which the UK’s leading law firms encourage greater diversity in the legal profession. Brodies offers quality work experience and continued support to young people from less privileged backgrounds, including our very popular structured work experience programme during which young people gain experience in legal, IT, finance, HR and marketing teams. We couldn’t be prouder that this year two of our PRIME scheme ‘graduates’ from Wester Hailes Education Centre were offered places at Edinburgh Law School and with plans to expand the initiative further, hopefully we will see many more follow in their footsteps.
The conference was a brilliant event and we were thoroughly privileged to have been involved.
On March 16, 2015