Widening access to the legal profession


We aim to attract and inspire the best people to the legal profession, developing and empowering people from all backgrounds and at all levels to use their initiative and make things happen. Our initiatives ensure access to the widest possible talent pool, opening up opportunities and inspiring people across diverse backgrounds, in particular:

Our partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust in opening up opportunities across the socio-economic spectrum and to those from ethnic minorities

Back in 2014/15, Stephenson Harwood and the Trust developed and launched an award-winning pilot scheme called the 'Access to Professions: law' programme, focussing on year 9 students from BAME and less advantaged backgrounds at the Harris Academy Greenwich.

This involved providing interactive speaker sessions, work experience, office visits, mentors and practical skills workshops, all designed to raise aspirations, broaden horizons, educate about the highly competitive legal profession and improve social mobility. The pilot scheme was a huge success, and in large part led to the Trust receiving Big Lottery funding to continue and widen the programme.

The programme now covers more industries and schools, and is called the Career Pathways programme. We continue to be a key contributor to the programme (now in its fourth year), offering the same activities, experience and visits to the students involved. Volunteers take part from across the firm, from business services through to partners.

The firm's involvement has now reached hundreds of students, contributed to a royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and seen its work with the Trust recognised during the year marking the 25th anniversary of Stephen's death.

We are immensely proud of our partnership with the Trust, and retain our commitment to the long-standing relationship that we have built.

“I have been hugely impressed by the enthusiasm and diligence of the students. They are a fantastic group of people and it has been such a pleasure to work with them.”

“It’s been refreshing and humbling to see just how much these talented kids have to offer – hopefully this great opportunity will have shown them that a career in the law, or indeed anything else, is a tangible reality rather than a pipe dream.”

Our Bright Sparks work experience for those from less advantaged backgrounds

Our highly successful work experience and mentoring programme called ‘Bright Sparks’ is part of the PRIME initiative which provides access for school-age students in and outside of London to the legal profession. During the work experience we provide opportunities for students to participate in employability skills workshops, a 1:1 CV clinic and a mock interview.

We are delighted that a number of our alumni students have gone on to successfully apply for places to study to law at university.

One of our Bright Sparks students reflects back on her time at Stephenson Harwood:

"One of the most incredible opportunities I have been fortunate enough to receive was completing one week of work experience at Stephenson Harwood LLP. Stephenson Harwood fascinated me – every day was a unique experience, as I met so many inspiring members of staff and worked alongside a practising lawyer, whose work I found interesting and intriguing. My time at Stephenson Harwood not only provided me with an insight into a law career, and the many facets of law I was previously unfamiliar with, but inspired me to excel and achieve my ambition to work in such a prestigious law firm. One of the characteristics of Stephenson Harwood that really made the experience so great for me was the friendliness of every member of staff that I met. They made a potentially daunting experience exciting, and I couldn't wait to return every day. At the end of our week I not only felt incredibly more confident in myself, but also with my ambition to succeed in a law career. I am extremely grateful for the experience I had and would love to do it again."

Signing up to the social mobility business compact

We have been approved as a signatory to the social mobility business compact, a government led initiative aimed at ensuring access to opportunities is fair and open for all young people. To sign up to this we illustrated how we:

  • Support communities and local schools to raise aspirations
  • Improve skills and create job opportunities for all young people to get a foot on the ladder
  • Recruit openly and fairly

Our work experience programme in partnership with the charity Whizz Kidz for young wheelchair users

Whizz Kidz nominated Stephenson Harwood for the National Council Work Experience Awards and we were shortlisted as finalists.

One of our Whizz Kidz students reflects on her time with us:

"Taking part in the work placement was a fantastic experience, and one I feel has really helped me decide the direction I want my career to take when I finish University. I’m really grateful to everyone at Stephenson Harwood for making me feel so welcome and giving me such an interesting range of tasks to undertake, including assisting senior partners with research for cases."

Our commitment through Stonewall to act as diversity champion for the LGBT community

We feature in the Stonewall 'Starting Out Guide'.

© Stephenson Harwood LLP 2016. Any reference to Stephenson Harwood in this document means Stephenson Harwood LLP and/or its affiliated undertakings. Any reference to a partner is used to refer to a member of Stephenson Harwood LLP.