Young talent backed through diversity scheme

Two talented young people are on the road to forging a successful career in law, thanks to a scheme launched to improve diversity in the legal sector.

Higgs LLP and Gateley Legal, along with The University of Law and The College of Legal Practice, are supporting Birmingham Law Society’s Diversity Inclusion Scheme, which helps law degree graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds or under-represented groups.

This year’s successful candidates were Polina Krivoshejeva and Josh Mahay, who have secured a fully-funded scholarship to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) at the University of Law’s Birmingham campus and an LLM in Legal Practice, that includes SQE prep with The College of Legal Practice, respectively.

Crucially, the pair will also be offered a vacation scheme placement and mentoring support at both Higgs LLP and Gateley Legal.

Polina, 24 and originally from Latvia, recently completed her LLB at the University of Law and is working as a Property Recoveries Paralegal.

“Speaking with confidence about my abilities during interviews is always a daunting task for me but I found the whole application process for the Diversity Inclusion Scheme very reassuring and empowering,” she said. “I was able to put forward a strong case for the scholarship and my passion for law.

“I had to start working at a young age to support myself. One of my first jobs was as an accounting assistant, which is when I realised that I would like to work within a corporate structure.

“During my school years, I discovered my passion for analytical and research tasks, so I decided to explore law. I moved to the UK for my undergraduate degree and loved every second.

“I am absolutely thrilled to be one of the successful candidates on the Diversity Inclusion Scheme – I’m still taking it all in. It’s the perfect opportunity for me to further my education, build up confidence and foster professional skills.”

Josh, 22, studied law at Aston University, where he was also a member of the Law Society and the Sikh Society. He recently completed an internship with the BBC in London in commercial rights and business affairs.

“This is a huge boost for my career and will open up a host of new opportunities,” said Josh. “I am extremely grateful to the Birmingham Law Society, The College of Legal Practice, Higgs and Gateley for this extraordinary scheme.

“The interview was a daunting prospect, but to be successful up against so many strong applicants is amazing.”

Birmingham Law Society’s Diversity Inclusion Scheme was first launched in 2020.

Sophie Wardell, HR Director at award-winning firm Higgs LLP, said: “Higgs is fully committed to inclusion and to helping address the social and economic disparities faced by some young people who want to pursue a career in law.

“This is a fantastic scheme that helps to break down barriers. By pledging our support, we are committing to providing vacation scheme placements and first-class mentoring to the successful candidates with some of our most experienced lawyers.

“Throughout the application process, Polina and Josh stood out as outstanding candidates and we look forward to supporting them both and following their progress throughout the LPC and SQE.”

Steffi Ballmann, Emerging Talent Manager at Gateley Legal, said: “We are pleased to continue our support of the BLS Diversity Inclusion Scheme having been a partner since it launched.  Josh and Polina are excellent candidates and we look forward to supporting them with mentoring and welcoming them on to our vacation schemes next summer.”

Alice Kinder, Birmingham Law Society Vice President and Chair of the Birmingham Law Society Social Mobility sub-committee said: “An individual’s background can have a huge impact on their ability to access and progress in the legal profession and it is very important that the Birmingham legal community works together to break down these barriers.”

Sarah Ramsey, Dean of the University of Law Birmingham Campus said: “We are very pleased to continue our support of the BLS Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship having provided a full fee scholarship every year since the scheme began. As a University we are committed to increasing diversity in the legal profession and supporting applicants from diverse backgrounds who have much to offer and are thrilled that one of our former LLB students has been successful this year.”

Dr Giles Proctor, CEO of The College of Legal Practice added: “We are delighted to be able to offer Josh this unique opportunity alongside our partners. Improving access to the profession runs through everything that we do at the College, and we look forward to supporting his SQE journey.”