The Challenge

Law – how does a decline in social mobility impact the Professions?

Declining social mobility into the professions is a grave concern for the Law profession. Lawyers need to be representative of the society they serve. Law firms are increasingly aware that they need to draw from the widest talent pool, and know that clients and businesses want this also.

But recent figures suggest either no change, or declining mobility in the major professions. 75% of high court judges are privately educated, and most of these have attended elite boarding schools. Less than 7% of doctors, barristers, judges, vets, dentists or psychologists are from routine or semi-routine working class origins. Children of lawyers are 17 times more likely to become lawyers than children whose parents did a different job and there is some evidence that younger partners at magic circle firms are becoming more privileged.

Access to university is part of the problem. But, we are confident that with your support, Universities can be part of the solution. Our goal at Exeter is to offer superb, targeted Outreach Programmes free of charge to students from underrepresented backgrounds offering support and nurturing aspirations. Once students have come to us via these programmes, we want to offer bursaries and Scholarships so that financial worries are no longer a barrier. The University has been running these programmes successfully for many years but need to upscale them; your support could create a step-change.


Thanks to the support of Exeter Law alumni, we have created a £100k match fund in the run up to our Law Centenary in 2023. Our goal is to provide 20 meaningful scholarships of £10k for students coming to study Law via our Exeter Scholars’ and Pathways outreach programmes. These students will be known as ‘Senior Scholars’ This ambition is not an end point but a starting point, a way to kickstart philanthropic support; a helping hand from current successful Exeter Lawyers, to future generations.

Can you help us? We will match your donation to support a Scholarship, pound for pound.