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Educate Magazine - 2021-05-01

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The Law Factor goes Virtual!

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LJMU’s Catherine Shillito has said: “LJMU’s commitment to supporting young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve their aspirations remains a priority.” Whilst face-to-face outreach activity has been largely restricted for the past year, widening access initiatives have continued in a virtual format to address the under-representation of specific groups studying at the University. One such initiative is aimed specifically at increasing the diversity of young people who study and ultimately practice law. Managed by LJMU’s Catherine Shillito, the Law Factor programme gives pupils in Year 10 the opportunity to discover more about the legal profession through a structured programme of activity delivered by the Liverpool based law firm, DWF. Twilight interactions provide selected young people with an insight into law led by professional DWF staff, helping them to develop their confidence and belief that such careers are accessible to them. Throughout the five week programme, a number of internal and external speakers contributed to the programme, including LJMU director of the foundation of citizenship Zia Chaudhry who spoke of his experience as a longstanding criminal barrister. In addition, JMSU president Lila Tamea spoke passionately about her journey to studying Law at LJMU. This year saw over 25 pupils take part in the programme with virtual attendance from schools across the North West and Midlands. Pupils were selected based on widening participation criteria, including first generation, low socioeconomic background and black and minority Ethnic status. Helen Redmond, DWF Solicitor and Law Factor Lead said: “I am so very pleased that, against the odds, we were able to run a successful Law Factor programme this year! It really felt like a ray of positivity in what is a very challenging time, and I hope that the students felt this too. “From DWF's perspective, it was nice to see some new faces getting involved in volunteering, who have embraced the programme due to the virtual format. It was also fantastic to work with new friends, this year welcoming the CPS and Anthony Walker Foundation to our list of participants, and to be able to work with students from across the North West – Manchester, Bolton, the Wirral, and St Helens – as well as our usual friends from Liverpool. Margaret Winstanley, careers lead, Bridgewater High School said: “Such a fantastic opportunity for the students. A well-organised and incredibly beneficial, thought out programme. “We as Bridgewater would not be able to take part if the programme was not online and I would love to give the students the opportunity moving forward, year on year. Thank you so much for the opportunity!” Feedback from participants was overwhelmingly positive with many echoing the thoughts of the Year 10 pupils saying: “I have gained an understanding into what the law profession really entails and what the most important skills are when it comes to employability, I also got to find out about criminal law which I was most interested in”. Pupils who took part in Law Factor will get further opportunities to engage with LJMU to discover more about courses and pathways to HE. LJMU are also supporting the national Levelling up Law initiative as part of the University’s involvement in the Social Mobility Pledge aimed at those from low socio-economic backgrounds. You can find out more about how the outreach team supports access to the professions and other initiatives by emailing: outreach@ljmu.ac.uk

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