Teenagers from across the South West are celebrating their graduation from a prestigious course designed to prepare them for the world of law.
Pathways to Law gives pupils knowledge and experience about legal careers, as well as applying to higher education. This includes working with University of Exeter academics to develop new skills, taking part in work experience with local lawyers and support from undergraduate law mentors and ambassadors.
This is the ninth cohort to have graduated from the programme at the University of Exeter. Pathways to Law is offered at 13 UK universities, including the University of Exeter and is jointly funded and managed by The Sutton Trust. Participants attend state schools or colleges and many will be the first in their family to attend university.
Firms from around the South West have supported the University of Exeter’s Pathways to Law programme through offering work experience or delivering skills or insight sessions. This includes large law firms, barristers, and staff at the Exeter Crown and County Courts and Truro Crown Courts. Participants have also had the opportunity of attending a national summer residential at a partner Pathways to Law University and visiting key legal institutions in London, such as The Inner Temple
This year 35 students from 19 schools and colleges from across the region graduated. Among those celebrating their achievements at a ceremony on the university’s Streatham campus were their family and friends, academics and those from law firms and other organisations that have provided support.
The celebrations were led by Professor Joasia Luzak, Head of the University of Exeter Law School, Eleanor Parsons, a trainee solicitor at Burges Salmon LLP, Lottie Martindale, a Pathways to Law Mentor, Rachel Appiah, a Sutton Trust Alumni Leadership Board Member, Natasha Bellinger, a barrister at Magdalen Chambers and University of Exeter Law School lecturer and Kate Blackmore, the University of Exeter’s Pathways to Law and Outreach Officer.
Professor Luzak said: “It is fantastic to be able to celebrate the great achievements of our graduates and the dedication of staff and students involved in Pathways to Law. We would also like to thank all the teachers at schools around the South West who supported their pupils completing the programme. I am proud of students who join us on this adventure, who contribute to the rich and diverse Exeter community.”
Rachel Appiah, a Sutton Trust Alumni Leadership Board Member said: “It’s been exciting to see the students graduate from Pathways to Law today- the program teaches many transferrable skills that they can use in their future careers. As a graduate of the program myself, I went through similar sessions and workshops, and found them very beneficial to my development. I look forward to seeing the students embark on their career journeys with these newfound skills, and hopefully will see them engage with the Sutton Trust in the future!”
Ms Parsons, a former Pathways to Law participant and now a trainee solicitor at Burges Salmon LLP, spoke to the new graduates about her experiences on the programme and how it had helped her career through allowing her to build a network and take part in extra opportunities. She told the graduates to “foster links now and they will grow with you over time”.
She said: “You’ve got to here through hard work and dedication, not through a network, but that will change as you progress. Seek out people for advice. Ensure it’s your name spoken in a room of opportunities.”
Graduates were from Bodmin College, Bournemouth School, Callywith College, Coombe Dean School, Exeter College, Kingsbridge Community College, Launceston College, Liskeard School and Community College, Plymouth High School for Girls, Richard Huish College, Stoke Damerel Community College, The Gryphon School, The Spires College, Torquay Girls’ Grammar School, Falmouth School, Honiton Community College, South Devon College, St Cuthbert Mayne School and Truro and Penwith College.
Graduate Jess Wightman, from St Cuthbert Mayne School, now hopes to study history at the University of Exeter. She said: “I’m very glad I took part in Pathways to Law. I learned new skills and it’s boosted my confidence, as well as helping me on my journey to university.”
Tegan Dacey, who is studying at Truro and Penwith College, has also been attending the University of Exeter as an Exeter Scholar since she was 14. She hopes to study law at the University of Exeter from this September.
Tegan said: “Spending so much time here has opened up to me how amazing university life can be. It’s been great meeting students and academics. Coming for this ceremony has really motivated me as I keep on revising and prepare to do exams – I can picture the beautiful campus as I’m working”