Liverpool Barristers offer mentoring to L8 youngsters

Barristers from Exchange Chambers in Liverpool are partnering with L8 A Better Place to inspire young people from all backgrounds to consider careers in the law. Tony McDonough reports

Stella Hayden
Stella Hayden, a criminal law barrister at Exchange Chambers

 

Barristers at a Liverpool chambers will take part in a new mentoring programme to inspire people from all backgrounds to careers in the law.

Exchange Chambers is partnering up with L8 A Better Place, a community development project based at the Kuumba Imani Millennium Centre in Toxteth, to deliver the programme. 

L8 A Better Place works with a range of students and young people from different backgrounds and 22 barristers from Exchange will be each be assigned a student from the local community as part of the project.

Over an 18-month period the barristers will act as mentors and offer advice, support, and practical experience. This will involve fortnightly contact over email, telephone, face-to-face or Zoom events every three months. It will also include practical experience at court.

It is aimed at students and young people who are interested in pursuing a career in law and would otherwise lack access to the legal profession. Exchange criminal barrister Stella Hayden has worked closely with L8 A Better Place in developing the mentoring programme.

She said: “As a progressive barristers’ chambers, we are committed to achieving equality in representation within the legal profession. We want the composition of chambers to reflect the community we represent.

“The aim of this scheme is to provide students with access to a professional mentor who can advise and support them to develop key skills and areas of knowledge by providing an insight into a career in the law.

“Students will be at different stages in their education – some may not yet have decided on their career path, some may have already made choices about further study and their chosen field.”

Ms Hayden added that even if he students do not ultimately pursue a career in the law profession, they will have been provided with transferable skills and confidence they can take into their chosen careers.

Joe Ramsden, community engagement worker at L8 A Better Place, added: “People from global majority communities have historically found it more difficult to break into certain careers in the UK than their white counterparts, and law is one of them.

“Over the last few months, incidents like the murder of George Floyd in the US have reverberated across the world and focused attention on the systemic inequalities that exist in our own society. This is why the Exchange Chambers mentoring scheme is important.

“It is changing the prospects of over a dozen incredibly talented students and pupils from L8, and it is also addressing the fundamental inequality of opportunity typically available to Black and Asian people in the UK.”

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