I am a 21-year-old final year law student, and a future trainee solicitor at Hogan Lovells.
I grew up in a small rural ex-mining village in North Nottinghamshire. My parents have always been extremely supportive of my wishes and have told me from a young age that I could achieve anything I wanted, provided I worked hard enough. Despite this continued moral support, neither my parents, or grandparents attended university and exposure to a career in law, for someone from my background, was extremely limited.
I attended a low performing state school. The year I sat my GCSEs, only 33% of the year obtained a C or above in Maths and English. I knew from a young age that if I wanted to succeed academically in that environment, then I would have to work hard and take matters into my own hands. Therefore, I had to undertake independent study from an early age; a commitment which continued as I progressed to my A Level studies at the same school.
At A level, the academic challenges were much harder. However, at the same time, I had begun participation in a programme called Pathways to Law. This programme is run by the Sutton Trust, and is aimed at increasing exposure to a career in law for bright students from widening participation backgrounds. The programme gave me an excellent insight into the many different areas of law I could go into through various insight days, talks, university visits and residentials.
Pathways to Law gave me a tangible goal to work towards, and what started out as a dream slowly turned into a possible future reality. I was so impressed by what Pathways to Law had offered me at A Level that I then applied and took part in the Pathways to Law Plus scheme during my degree. This programme is run on a much smaller scale and is aimed at increasing exposure to a career in commercial law. The connections and experience I received from this programme were invaluable.
As part of the programme I attended insight days at Linklaters, DLA Piper and Hogan Lovells. I then did a week’s work experience at Hogan Lovells during the summer following my first year of university. I had the best week at the firm; it confirmed for me not only that I wanted a career in commercial law, but also the firm that I wanted to pursue this goal with. Having experience already at the firm was extremely useful and I was successful in securing a vacation scheme at Hogan Lovells. I spent three intense but extremely enjoyable weeks at the firm over summer, and was delighted to receive and accept an offer of a training contract with them.
Since accepting, I have supported Pathways to Law as an alumna, including mentoring sixth form students who are currently on the programme, attending and speaking at their introductory events, and working at the National Law Conference in Warwick, which is part of the programme.
I attended this year’s PRIME conference at Hogan Lovells’ office, speaking as a panellist about my story and how PRIME has helped me get to this (very early) stage in my legal career.
I would not be where I am today if it was not for PRIME; it opened doors for me and took me on a path I never knew myself capable of going down. PRIME gave me the self-belief and practical support I needed to succeed in this industry, and I will feel eternally grateful and lucky for the opportunities I have received.
I hope that my story inspires others from similar backgrounds to pursue their goals, and know that the social barriers can be broken.