Published on 26/01/2023
Pathways to Law
  • The programme supports local students from under-represented backgrounds towards a career in law
  • It was initiated by Aston University in partnership with law firm Shoosmiths
  • Virgin Media O2’s in house legal team is joining to showcase the broad range of opportunities available to students.

A programme initiated by Aston University in partnership with law firm Shoosmiths, which supports local students from under-represented backgrounds towards a career in law, has garnered support from Virgin Media/O2 and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX).

The Pathways to Law programme was created as a response to the Government’s plans to improve access to high skilled and high paid jobs. The programme consists of a series of guidance, information and law taster sessions with the aim of equipping young people with the skills needed to complete a degree in law.

The 18-month Pathways to Law programme will start in January 2023 and will see 33 students enrolled out of a total 101 applicants.

Of the students taking part, 24 live in or attend a school or college in a low social economic area and 26 are the first of their family to attend university. 19 students also receive free school meals, with 17 receiving a 16-19 bursary and three are declared refugees.

This programme will now also see involvement from Virgin Media O2’s in house legal team, who will showcase the broad range of opportunities available to students wishing to take the commercial, in-house legal route, as well as CILEX (Chartered Institute of Legal Executives), a professional body providing a cost-effective vocational route to a legal qualification.

Professor Aleks Subic, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at Aston University, said:

“I am a passionate and lifelong advocate for multiculturalism, equity, diversity and inclusion, so it is wonderful to see our Pathway to Law programme evolving in such a way.

“Our Pathways programmes are an amazing asset, extending learning opportunities to students aged 16-18 from under-represented groups across the West Midlands region and providing them with the skills and confidence to apply to university courses leading to professional careers in law, STEM, medicine and healthcare.

“This partnership with Shoosmiths, Virgin Media O2 and CILEX will help our students achieve exceptional career pathways and social mobility outcomes."

Sarah Fullwood, Pathways manager at Aston University, said:

“We are keen to develop a Pathway which widens the social profile of candidates in the legal profession and is representative of the community it serves.

“Aston University is proud of its track record on social mobility and look forward to developing our Pathway to Law programme in collaboration with Shoosmiths.

“These activities will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these students and will help level the playing field for their progression into higher education and the legal profession.”

Alex Bishop, co-head of Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office and head of the dispute resolution and litigation team, said:

“We are incredibly proud to be partnering now not only with Aston University but also with Virgin Media/O2 and CILEX to provide a really enriched programme to the aspiring students. 

“This partnership demonstrates Shoosmiths’ commitment to advancing social mobility and the importance we place, both firm-wide and as a Birmingham-based business, on creating positive change in the local community.

“It is truly inspiring to be involved in this programme and we are looking forward to helping this fantastic group of young people reach their full potential and pursue a career in law.”

Enrique Medina Malo, general counsel & chief regulatory officer at Virgin Media O2, said:

“We are delighted to be involved in such a fantastic initiative, providing guidance and hopefully inspiration to support young people. 

“Virgin Media O2 has bold ambitions to help the business better represent the diverse communities it serves and, as part of the General Counsel’s Office, our ‘All In’ squad actively works to promote inclusive values and we very much look forward to promoting social mobility through working with both Aston University and Shoosmiths.”

CILEX CEO Linda Ford said:

“CILEX is dedicated to improving social mobility by providing a flexible, vocational path to qualification as a specialist legal professional.

“This programme provides a welcome opportunity to showcase the range of entry points and opportunities that are available for anyone considering a career in the legal profession.

“Initiatives like these help the legal sector to attract the brightest future talent, regardless of background, bringing together organisations from across the sector to ensure a career in the law is open to all aspiring lawyers and that the profession more closely reflects the population it serves.”

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University is ranked 22nd in the UK in the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7446 910063 or email:

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