Five interns have started their six-week paid internship at the Law Society of England and Wales as part of the #10000BlackInterns initiative.
The Law Society’s interns will work in various departments, including legal services, legal policy and people and organisational development. Their experience forms part of the #10000BlackInterns initiative, which offers paid work experience across over twenty sectors – including law – to create mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for Black talent.
The initiative was started to improve career prospects for Black youth in the UK and diversify the representation of Black talent across industries. According to the Law Society’s latest Annual Statistics Report, just 2.1% of solicitors with practising certificates identified as Black. Keen to challenge the lack of representation in the sector, in 2020, the Law Society held Achieving Change Together roundtables with law firms to understand the experiences of Black solicitors in large law firms, including their underrepresentation at senior levels.
Law Society president Stephanie Boyce said: “I am delighted to welcome five ambitious young people to the Law Society. I hope their internships provide building blocks for their future – I know the Law Society will be enriched by their time with us. Ninety legal and compliance firms are also participating in the scheme, which I am pleased to see, particularly as 10 of the larger law firms are opening their doors to host interns and help them gain experience to get on the career ladder.
“I’ve made no secret of the setbacks I faced trying to break into the legal sector. As I was brought up in a single-parent household on a council estate, I found I didn’t have the connections that others may have had to get their foot in the door when I was starting out.
“However, I kept persevering and eventually qualified as a solicitor in 2002, having found a training contract at a local firm in Buckinghamshire.
“There is evidence to suggest that diversity in the profession varies greatly by the size of the firm and at different levels within the profession. The profession must continue to reflect on how we can welcome new voices and experiences into our businesses and how we can retain and progress them. It is imperative we talk openly and honestly to ensure we are creating a culture change in the organisations we work in, not just pursuing our own success.”
Law Society legal policy intern Dorcas Baah added: “I was incredibly motivated by the appointment of Stephanie Boyce as the Law Society’s president, as it gave a powerful example of representation. It showed me that I could make my mark in the legal profession despite any barriers I might face.
“I hope that by gaining this internship, I will similarly encourage other people from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds to work hard and aim for their ambitions in different sectors and organisations – even when they seem out of reach.”
For more information about the #10000BlackInterns initiative, click here.