Using the hashtag #mypathtolaw, solicitors, barristers and academics have been sharing details of how they overcame obstacles and battled against the odds to bag their dream career in law.
The hashtag was created by Exeter Law School's Dr Matthew Channon, to find lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The cost of training and competition for training contracts makes pursuing a career in law tough, even for those with high grades, privileged backgrounds and degrees from top universities. But if you come from a disadvantaged family, a legal career can seem out of reach.
“Lawyers are seen as privileged, from posh schools and posh universities,” says Matthew Channon. According to the Sutton Trust, 74% of judges and 71% of QCs are privately educated. “But not everyone comes from that background. I was the first in my family to go to university.”
Dr Matthew Channon
Lecturer in Law
Matthew created the mypathtolaw hashtag.
'Looking back my biggest challenge was my self-confidence, I had the attitude that due to my background, I didn’t deserve to be at University nor find a good job in the future. If I could go back 10 years I would tell myself that this is not true. This is why I am committed to breaking down barriers for future students who were in similar positions as me and why I took the step of creating the mypathtolaw hashtag.'
Bryony - 3rd Year
I no longer feel like I don’t belong, because with hard work, a bit of encouragement and most importantly just an ounce of self-belief you really can achieve. There is nothing stopping you from achieving in law except for yourself. Have a little confidence in your abilities. You do belong.
Jacob - 3rd Year
For anyone wanting to study law, whatever your background, I would say this: manage your time well, study like crazy, take up every possible opportunity, and be proud of where you come from and what your experiences are. The legal profession needs REAL PEOPLE – JUST LIKE YOU!
Dr Charlotte Bishop
Lecturer in Law
I hope my story inspires others in similar positions to realise their dreams – it is possible to overcome childhood adversity and to have a successful and fulfilling career, even as a solo parent, but it requires acceptance of our own limitations, both as a parent and as an academic.
When I was 10-years-old, I met a lawyer, and I asked my mum “how do I become one of those?”- I couldn’t think of anything better but to know what is right and wrong, and helping people, especially children, fight for justice.
A Law Degree isn’t meant to be easy, nor is life, but you can truly use your experiences to forge your degree and go into the career you’ve always dreamt of!
Oliver - 1st Year
When I turned nineteen I had nothing to my name except some less than satisfactory A-level results, an empty CV and a lack of direction in life. I realised I had two choices; I could either follow in my father’s footsteps, get a nine till five job and die of boredom slowly, or spend the next few years working towards attending the best University in the South West. Two months later I had both full-time employment and voluntary duties, within a year I had an unconditional offer to study Law at the University of Exeter.
I suggest that the biggest barrier is to ‘grab the bull by the horns’, stay focused, determined and positive and you can achieve the goals you wish if you want it to work for you. Hard work and dedication to the subject matter is essential as the law is a fluid and complex subject area.
Wenona Kulendi - 2nd Year
Mypathtolaw started from a very tender age by having a dad who is a lawyer. My biggest motivation was seeing how my dad, through hard work, discipline and the grace of God had managed to rise through the ranks and become a lawyer with his own practice. My father was born to uneducated parents, in a small rural town in northern Ghana but had worked immensely hard to become a household name that many Ghanaian lawyers look up to. Deep down, I always knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps and work with him one day.
Second Year, LLB Law
As a kid, the only thing I ever wanted to do after growing up was to be a pilot. My family always thought the legal profession was my calling. It was not until much later that I realised that being a lawyer was what I wanted more than anything else.
Coming from a refugee background, as a mixed-race female with dyslexia who attended a state school some 20 years ago, I already felt I was on the back-foot in chasing a career at the English Bar.
I am a single parent to my 4 year old son, Rhodes. When returning to work as a Bid Coordinator after Maternity Leave, I decided to make the leap of returning back to full-time education in perseverance of my dream job; a Family Lawyer. It was a tough decision to make, but one I have never regretted.
"Never give up on the dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it... The time will pass anyway"
Lecturer in Law
Looking back, I would say that my pathtolaw began shortly before my 16th birthday, when I left secondary school and home to move to London to take up a place at the BRIT Performing Arts School, although of course I didn’t know it then!