Published on 17/10/2023
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Shoosmiths X Aston University
  • The initiative aims to support local students from under-represented backgrounds towards a career in law
  • The group of 33 students embarked on the programme in January 2023
  • Each student was involved in a mini graduation and received a certificate of their achievement.

The first cohort of Aston University students have graduated from the final module of the Pathways to Law programme, an initiative which aims to support local students from under-represented backgrounds towards a career in law.

The 18-month programme was initiated by Aston University in partnership with law firm Shoosmiths and is supported by Virgin Media O2 and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX).

The group of 33 students embarked on the programme in January 2023, many of whom come from low socio-economic backgrounds.

During the programme, students receive a series of guidance, information and law taster sessions, including a third module on professionalism, networking and employability. 

To celebrate their success in the programme, each student was involved in a mini graduation and received a certificate of their achievement. 

Ocean, a 17 year old student from Central St Michaels Sixth Form College on the Pathways to Law programme, said: 

“I loved my day of work experience with Shoosmiths because it gave me accurate insight to what the different teams do within the law firm, which allowed me to make a more educated decision as to what kind of law I would want to work in.

“Throughout the day, Shoosmiths' ethos of equality and being supportive showed through very effectively. 

“In the afternoon the other work experience students and I were split up and each paired with member of staff from different areas of commercial law. I had an amazing time with the mentor I was placed with and got the chance to look through and organise discovery documents.”

Alex Bishop partner and co-head of Shoosmiths’ Birmingham office said: “Social mobility is very important to Shoosmiths and the Pathways programme has been an effective means for us to continue making a difference within our local community.

“We were delighted to partner with our client Virgin Media O2 and with CILEX to explore broader legal opportunities and showcase the routes available to young people who are looking into a career in professional services.

“The energy, enthusiasm and talent of the students in this cohort was inspiring. Hearing of the various social mobility challenges they face has also given us plenty of food for thought on how we as a firm can support them and tailor our offering.”

Sarah Fullwood, outreach manager at Aston University, said:

“Our Pathways programmes are an amazing asset, extending learning opportunities to students aged 16-18 across the West Midlands region and providing them with the skills and confidence to apply to university courses centred around Law. 

“The Pathway to Law programme, delivered in collaboration with Shoosmiths’ Birmingham has made a profound difference in the lives of pupils and has provided significant support to those hoping to enter the legal profession.” 

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

“We are delighted to have contributed to the Pathways to Law programme.  

“As a General Counsel’s Office at Virgin Media O2, we are committed to the promotion of inclusive values, and we recognise how important social mobility programmes are to attracting talent and increasing representation within the legal sector. 

“Hearing from the students that this programme has benefited them in terms of their awareness and skillset is rewarding for all that have taken part.”

Linda Ford, CILEX chief executive officer, said: 

“Increasing awareness of the broad range of career opportunities available to aspiring legal professionals is essential if we are to open up access to candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds and provide opportunities without barriers. 

“It has been a pleasure collaborating with colleagues on this important programme and CILEX will continue to support initiatives which challenge perceptions, celebrate difference and reject social, educational and professional elitism. 

“We hope that the information, tools and resources provided to the Pathways to Law Initiative will be of great use as the students move forward and wish each and every one success in their future careers.”  

Notes to Editors

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

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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