19 students from 13 state schools and colleges from across the South West region graduated from the Pathways to Law programme, a national project which aims to inspire and support high achieving students from non-privileged backgrounds who are interested in pursuing a legal career.
The Pathways to Law programme is offered at 12 universities, including the University of Exeter. Part of Exeter Scholars, it is managed by The Sutton Trust and funded by The Legal Education Foundation. For the last two years, these students have engaged in academic and skills sessions, field trips, work experience, and in some cases, additional academic sessions and visits to partner Pathways to Law universities. The graduates are the University’s 4th cohort of Pathways of Law students to complete the programme, and nationally, they are the 10th cohort.
The graduation ceremony brought together individuals and organisations that have helped to support this programme throughout the past two years, including participating students and their guests, University of Exeter Law academics and professional services staff, law undergraduates, placement providers, law alumni and donors. Pathways to Law Mentor and former Pathways to Law student, Alexandra Fagan, commented on the event: “What a wonderful celebration! It represented everything that is so amazing about Pathways as an organisation. I hope that the graduates feel proud of all they have accomplished, we definitely are!”
Guests at the graduation ceremony also included law firms and other organisations that have provided work experience placements or who have provided direct support to sessions throughout the year. The law firms and organisations involved were Dechert LLP, Magdalen Chambers, Michelmores LLP, Stephens Scown LLP, Trowers & Hamlins LLP, Bond Dickinson LLP, Dunn & Baker LLP, Foot Anstey LLP, Truro Combined Courts, Exeter Civil Courts, the Personal Support Unit (PSU), Exeter, and Citizens Advice, Exeter.
Senior Director and barrister-in-law at Dechert LLP, Andrew Hood, stated: “I was delighted to speak at the recent Pathways to Law Graduation in Exeter who were rightly proud of their achievements. The wealth of experience and skills that they have developed on this worthwhile scheme have certainly prepared them for their next steps in life, whether that be Higher Education or direct employment in a legal setting. The students are great ambassadors for the Pathways to Law scheme and I wish them every success in their future endeavours.”
Barrister at Magdalen Chambers and Lecturer at the University of Exeter (and Exeter alumna), Natasha Bellinger commented: “It is such a privilege to be involved with this fantastic initiative and meet the engaging and bright students that take the time and effort to undertake the programme. Law is a fantastic and challenging career and students learning about access to the profession and what it is like to study law is key. It will stand them in very good stead in future and I wish them all the very best.”
Pro Vice-Chancellor of the College of Social Sciences and International Studies, Professor Debra Myhill said: “It is inspiring to see the pride of all the students and their families when they graduate. The programme represents real achievement and it opens the door for these young people to many new possibilities.”
Programme Manager of The Sutton Trust, Claire Maton stated: “The graduation ceremony was a brilliant event to celebrate the many successes of the students who have been committed to the Pathways to Law programme for the last two years. They were an impressive cohort who have been great ambassadors for the programme, I have no doubt will be successful at whatever it is they go on to do.”
Pathways to Law Coordinator, Kate Blackmore, has seen these students progress from beginning to end, and she was “very proud and delighted” to see them graduate: “They have been extremely engaged and enthusiastic throughout the programme and an absolute pleasure to work with. I also wish to thank all of the supporters of the programme including law academics, undergraduate mentors, placement providers, alumni and other partners of the programme who provide unique opportunities for these students to gain an insight into law as a topic and the various professions within it. I wish the students all the very best in their future careers!”
The evening’s celebrations on Wednesday 25 April were facilitated by Professor Myhill, Richard Edwards (Head of Exeter Law School), Andrew Hood, Claire Maton, Natasha Bellinger, Alexandra Fagan and Kate Blackmore.
This story originally appeared on Exeter’s website.