Last Wednesday evening, a small group of Sutton Trust alumni met around 70 students from the Pathways Plus programme at an event in the Inner Temple.

The gathering formed part of the student’s three-day residential, and offered the students a chance to learn more about becoming a barrister. The evening was hosted by Wilberforce Chambers in partnership with Fountain Chambers, and the Sutton Trust’s sponsor law firms – DLA Piper, Hogan Lovells and Linklaters – were also in attendance.

The evening was an excellent opportunity for students to network with some of the Trust’s most committed alumni volunteers, and is part of broader plans to strengthen the role that alumni play on programmes like Pathways Plus.

Max Mallin QC from Wilberforce Chambers said: “The evening was a great success. My colleagues at Wilberforce and I enjoyed the evening enormously and it was a privilege to meet so many committed, enthusiastic and talented young people. We look forward to welcoming many of them to the Bar in the years to come.”

Natasha Holcroft-Emmess (Summer School 2008) was the alumni guest speaker on the night. Natasha’s father is a butcher and her mother was a call center manager. In her speech, Natasha described how her experience on a Summer School gave her the confidence to apply to study law at university, particularly given that she didn’t know any lawyers growing up. She did both her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at Oxford and initially trained as a solicitor at Slaughter and May. She then decided to transfer to the Bar and is now a trainee barrister at Matrix Chambers.

Natasha said: “It’s such a privilege to work at the Bar, and to focus on work you’re interested in every day. It’s hard to get in, but once you are, it’s worth it. You need to ignore the voices in the back of your head which tell you that opportunities might not be for you. You also need to study really hard, and be prepared for setbacks. Getting to the Bar often involves hearing a lot more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’!”

Anna-Louise Thomond (Pathways to Law 2009) is the alumni representative on the Pathways to Law Advisory Group and a Trainee Solicitor at DLA Piper. She said: “Although it was now longer ago than I would like to think, I can still very distinctly remember how valuable I found the insights of those a couple of years ahead of me when I was a Pathways student and making the big decisions such as “solicitor vs barrister” and where to apply for training contracts. Strange as it is to now be on the other side of that conversation, it’s been really important to me to share my experiences with other aspiring lawyers and help to promote that positive message of “if I can do it, so can you”.’

Paramveer Gill (Pathways to Law 2007), is a Trainee Solicitor, Davies and Partners Solicitors. He said: “Attending the event, to provide some support to the students, was a great way of giving something back to a programme that gave me a footing to begin my journey to become a solicitor.”

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