Shoosmiths and Aston University partner with Virgin Media O2 and CILEX to support aspiring students looking towards a degree in law

A programme initiated by Aston University in partnership with law firm Shoosmiths which supports local students from under-represented backgrounds towards a career in law has garnered support from Virgin Media O2 and CILEX, prior to its first in-person event this week.

The Pathways to Law programme was created as a response to the Government’s plans to improve access to high skilled and high paid jobs. The programme is comprised of a series of guidance, information and law taster sessions with the aim of equipping young people with the skills needed to complete a degree in law.

The 18-month Pathways to Law programme kicked off in January 2023 and will see 33 students enrolled out of a total 101 applicants. 

Of the students taking part, 24 live in or attend a school or college in POLAR 4 Q1 or 2 postcodes (low social economic backgrounds and progression to higher education) and 26 are the first of their family to attend university. 19 students also receive free school meals, with 17 receiving a 16-19 bursary and 3 declared refugees. 

This programme will now also see involvement from Virgin Media O2’s General Counsel’s Office, who will showcase the option of considering a commercial, in-house legal route, as well as CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives), a professional body providing a cost-effective vocational route to a legal qualification.

Professor Aleks Subic, vice-chancellor and chief executive at Aston University, said:

“I am a passionate and lifelong advocate for multiculturalism, equity, diversity and inclusion, so it is wonderful to see our Pathway to Law programme evolving in such a way. 

“Our Pathways programmes are an amazing asset, extending learning opportunities to students aged 16-18 from under-represented groups across the West Midlands region and providing them with the skills and confidence to apply to university courses leading to professional careers in law, medicine and healthcare. 

“This partnership with Shoosmiths, Virgin Media O2 and CILEX will help our students achieve exceptional career pathways and social mobility outcomes."

Alex Bishop, co-head of Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office and head of the dispute resolution and litigation team, said: “We are incredibly proud to be partnering now not only with Aston University but also with Virgin Media O2 and CILEX to provide a really enriched programme to the aspiring students.  

“This partnership demonstrates Shoosmiths’ commitment to advancing social mobility and the importance we place, both firm-wide and as a Birmingham-based business, on creating positive change in the local community. 

“It is truly inspiring to be involved in this programme and we are looking forward to helping this fantastic group of young people reach their full potential and pursue a career in law.”

Enrique Medina Malo, general counsel and chief regulatory officer at Virgin Media O2, said “We are delighted to be involved in such a fantastic initiative, providing guidance and hopefully inspiration to support young people.  

“Virgin Media O2 has bold ambitions to help the business better represent the diverse communities it serves and, as part of the General Counsel’s Office, our ‘All In’ squad actively works to promote inclusive values and we very much look forward to promoting social mobility through working with both Aston University and Shoosmiths.”

CILEX CEO Linda Ford said: “CILEX is dedicated to improving social mobility by providing a flexible, vocational path to qualification as a specialist legal professional. This programme provides a welcome opportunity to showcase the range of entry points and opportunities that are available for anyone considering a career in the legal profession.

“Initiatives like these help the legal sector to attract the brightest future talent, regardless of background, bringing together organisations from across the sector to ensure a career in the law is open to all aspiring lawyers and that the profession more closely reflects the population it serves.”


This information is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. Please contact us for specific advice on your circumstances. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024.



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