Lawscot Foundation celebrates first cohort of graduates

07 Oct

DIVERSITY and inclusion in the legal profession matters, says past Lord Advocate and former Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, the Rt Hon James Wolffe KC.

Mr Wolffe was the keynote speaker at an event held this week in the Laigh Hall at Parliament House to celebrate the Lawscot Foundation’s first cohort of graduates.

Established in 2016, the Lawscot Foundation supports academically talented students from less-advantaged backgrounds in Scotland through their legal education journey.

“The first and most compelling reason why diversity and inclusion matter is that it is, quite simply, unfair if someone, who has the intellectual and practical ability and the ambition to be a lawyer is held back or disadvantaged by reason of their personal characteristics or social and economic circumstances.

As lawyers, we care about treating people fairly, so I could stop there,” he said. 

“But the second reason, and it is just as compelling, is that it is a loss to the profession if we do not recruit talented individuals from the widest pool, regardless of personal characteristics or social and economic background.

“That is where the Foundation comes in,” said Mr Wolffe. “It supports talented young people - and many of them are from the most deprived parts of Scotland or have faced extraordinary challenges and have risen above them. It recognises that the financial barriers to studying law are real, but also that the barriers to access to the profession are not just financial. We want to give the students we support the best start we can for a career in the law, and our students benefit from a programme which involves not just financial support but also mentoring and work shadowing opportunities.”

Christine McLintock, former President of the Law Society of Scotland and the founder and Chair of the Lawscot Foundation, opened the event. She thanked those in attendance as well as the organisation’s sponsors, whose contributions enable it to continue to support academically talented students from less advantaged backgrounds throughout their legal education journey.

Jordan Scott, a student from the Foundation’s cohort, spoke at the event about his experience with the Lawscot Foundation and how it has supported him to achieve his legal aspirations. Mr Scott, who obtained his LLB at the University of Dundee and his Diploma in Professional Legal Practice in Edinburgh, is now a first-year trainee at Morton Fraser.

To date the Foundation has supported 46 students with full bursaries and another eight with ad hoc grants. All 10 Scottish universities that run the accredited LLB are represented in its student body. Currently five students are studying towards the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice, and four students have secured a traineeship.

The Faculty of Advocates is among the organisations that have partnered with the Lawscot Foundation to support its aims and objectives. Faculty Treasurer Ruth Crawford KC, who is a trustee of the organisation alongside Mr Wolffe, said: “It was truly inspiring to see and hear from the Lawscot scholars and learn what they have gained from the support it has provided. We need to ensure the future of our profession by encouraging all young people to achieve their undoubted potential. It is wonderful that through Lawscot we are able to support those who might otherwise be unable to consider a career in the law.”

The Foundation’s ability to continue its work relies on the ongoing support of the legal profession. Over £1 200 was raised during the event at the Laigh Hall. Others wishing to  support the Lawscot Foundation can make their donations here