The Birmingham judiciary are implementing a scheme aimed at increasing diversity within the legal profession and the judiciary. Under the scheme, a selection of students studying law at undergraduate or postgraduate level at Birmingham-based universities will have the opportunity to shadow a practising judge, barrister or solicitor, spending time observing hearings and experiencing what life is like as a judge or lawyer.
Five local universities are being invited to join the scheme. (University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, Aston University, University of Law (Birmingham Campus) and Newman University.) It is intended that each university will select a number of students each year to take part in a 2-day placement with a judge or practising lawyer. Those days may be consecutive or separate, subject to suitable arrangements between the student and judge/lawyer concerned.
It is hoped that the scheme can begin early in 2023, depending on availability and the requirements set out below. It will be for each university to identify and select those students they wish to put forward but, as the aim of the scheme is to increase diversity, the students must be from diverse cultural backgrounds and particularly those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, who do not have any existing contacts in the legal profession and who have not already secured work experience elsewhere in the legal profession.
Once the scheme has started, it is expected that it will continue with dates being allocated during 2 tranches of 3 months in the year. These are likely to be March to May and September to November.
At present, there are around 120 placements available in the year with:
- Civil Circuit Judges
- Family Circuit Judges
- Civil/Family District Judges / Deputy District Judges
- Crown Court Circuit Judges
- Employment Tribunal Judges
- Immigration Tribunal Judges
- Social Security and Child Support Judges
- Barristers (mini-pupillages) [We are grateful to the Midland Circuit for their support in this regard.]
Ideally, we want to expand the number of opportunities to include solicitor 2-day placements across all areas of law. Tony McDaid, as President of Birmingham Law Society, supports the project and is keen for local solicitors’ firm to be involved. Local solicitors may have heard about the scheme through BLS. If any local firms can offer any placements, we would be very grateful for such support. Becky Lynch in the BLS office (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be able to take your details and pass them on to the judicial committee working on implementation of the scheme.
If anyone is interested but would like more information, please forward any questions to my PA, Charan Singh (Charan.email@example.com) who will bring them to my attention.
HHJ Emma Kelly, Designated Civil Judge for Birmingham