14 May 2024
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AG becomes founding member of SMART Legal Commitment

Addleshaw Goddard (AG) has become the first signatory to an initiative by Aspiring Solicitors to help would-be lawyers from disadvantaged backgrounds meet the start-up costs associated with a career in the legal industry.

The SMART Legal Commitment asks UK law firms to pledge funding to a grant programme which helps support vacation scheme candidates and future trainee solicitors who might otherwise struggle to pay for accommodation, tech equipment, professional clothing or any other costs associated with their new role.

AG has kicked off the grant programme by setting aside £25,000 which its vacation scheme candidates and future trainee solicitors can apply for via Aspiring Solicitors. 

All candidates who might be eligible for grant funding will be made aware of the scheme through their employer or placement provider, but the company will not be informed of the names of any applicants, nor will they contribute to the decision-making process.

To be eligible for the funding, candidates must be able to meet one or more of a defined list of criteria linked to social mobility (for a full list of eligibility criteria, see notes to editors).

Aspiring Solicitors is an organisation which was set up in 2013 to help aspiring trainee and qualified solicitors from diverse backgrounds prepare for and secure work placements, vacation schemes, training contracts and associate roles in some of the UK and Ireland's top legal teams. The organisation works with law firms and legal teams to provide opportunities for aspiring solicitors from diverse backgrounds to enhance equity, diversity and inclusion within the legal profession.

AG's Early Careers team have implemented a number of changes to their recruitment processes to ensure every candidate applying to the firm has the best chance of success irrespective of their background. This includes the implementation of a contextual recruitment system, blind screening, removing the A levels requirement and widening our target universities to include a diverse range of candidates. 

Gráinne Mitchell, Head of Early Careers at Addleshaw Goddard, said:

"Ensuring that we have a diverse workforce is paramount to the success of our firm. We continually review our early careers recruitment processes to ensure candidates from all backgrounds can succeed. Collaborating with Aspiring Solicitors on the SMART commitment is such a positive next step in helping us to further support candidates by reducing some of the financial burdens that stop candidates from applying to the legal profession."

Chris White, Founder of Aspiring Solicitors, said:

"We are delighted to partner with Addleshaw Goddard on the launch of the SMART Commitment.  The firm has helped AS to turn the concept into a reality, ensuring their vacation scheme candidates and future trainees know they are valued on day one with the firm whilst removing any potential stigma from the process that we know can exist. Action and words are very powerful, especially on matters of diversity." 

Further details

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