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Law Society President: Law should be taught at schools

Group of students sat and stood around desk

Stephanie Boyce, President of the Law Society of England and Wales, believes law should be taught at schools and children should be educated about their legal rights from an early age.

Law is primarily taught at A-Level in the UK while the subject can be studied at University as a degree. However, Boyce thinks it is imperative youngsters are educated in law much earlier before the age of 16.

The Law Society explained how an education in law will boost social mobility and aid young people to know their legal rights and how to begin a career in the industry.

Speaking exclusively on Laurence Simons’ ‘Summing Up’ podcast, hosted by CEO Clare Beresford, Boyce said:

“I’m absolutely passionate that law should be taught in schools from the earliest age possible.

“It goes back to legal rights, social mobility and having access from an early age to those all important networks where we can ask questions and be informed as to what we need to do in order to have a successful career in law.”

It wasn’t until Boyce’s second year at University when a charitable organisation pointed her in the right direction that she started setting down the ‘road map’ to becoming a legal professional.

Since then, Boyce has gone on to gain extensive experience in corporate governance, commercial, civil, public and regulatory law and became the 177th person, sixth female and first person of colour to become president of the Law Society of England and Wales in 2021.

A key advocate for social mobility, Boyce admits she didn’t have any direct legal influences growing up or the resources to explore a career in law.

“I didn’t understand what a lawyer did or the route to get there because I came from a background where I did not have access to those networks,” Boyce revealed on the Summing Podcast.

“I didn’t know a lawyer other than what I saw on television and what I saw and heard through the news. I did not know anybody close to me that was a lawyer.

“But what I did know was a lawyer, solicitor, barrister, was somebody who helped people exercise their rights to recognise and advise those individuals to exercise their rights because afterall, for me, what is the point of legal rights? They mean absolutely nothing if you don’t know those rights are being taken away.

“It was all driven either by what I saw, read or heard and just to put that into context, whilst I’m not that old, the internet that we know today was not as prolific, certainly not for me back in the early Nineties, because again you needed money for the hardware and infrastructure and that was something I didn’t have the social capital for.

“I didn’t have the resources to fund the internet in my own home, the ability to Google, ‘Where can I get a loan from?’”

Boyce hopes the legal sector will continue to become more accessible going forward but believes while the process to become a lawyer is easier than 30 years ago, there is still work to do.

“Whilst the barriers I may have faced are different today, we know there are still structural barriers and inequalities that exist.

“If we look at the makeup of the solicital profession, some 23 percent of us have been privately educated, as opposed to 7 per cent of the wider UK population.

“What we do know is if you don’t come from a background where you readily have access to those individuals who you can ask those questions or you don’t have the resources, whether that’s societal or financial, you are at a possible disadvantage to some of your colleagues who have had that all important social capital.

“They had that head start, so the barriers might be different but they very much exist.”

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