Olivia Moore: Fair and open profession is top of our wish list

Olivia Moore is the interim Head of Careers & Outreach at the Law Society of Scotland
Olivia Moore is the interim Head of Careers & Outreach at the Law Society of Scotland
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This year we’re asking you to reflect on the people who gave you a helping hand in your career, and to pay it forward by donating to the Lawscot Foundation’s annual festive fundraiser to support young people make a start in their legal careers.

The Lawscot Foundation charity grew from a big question we have been focusing on at the Law Society of Scotland – are there barriers which prevent talented people from becoming the solicitors of tomorrow?

The Foundation provides young people much-needed support to study law and take their first steps into the profession. We now support 25 students with an annual £2,500 bursary, mentoring support and tailored career-development opportunities to cultivate confidence and experience. As a profession, solicitors play an important role in a well-functioning society. Houses are bought, marriages are ended, and multi-million-pound deals are all negotiated under the expertise of Scottish solicitors. Chances are, most of us will instruct at least one over the course of our lives.

It’s a profession that has long-attracted ambitious and motivated people. There are fantastic opportunities for career growth and for solicitors to stretch and develop their skills throughout their working lives.

However, fair access is a major focus for us. As with many professional sectors we recognise that historically it’s an issue that hasn’t been dealt with, and that there’s still a lot more to do.

What we need is a body of solicitors who reflect the wide range of backgrounds of the people of Scotland, so they can best serve their clients. Making sure that anyone who has the talent to study law and become a solicitor isn’t inhibited by their socio-economic or ethnic background is at the core of fair access.

Of the 25 students the Foundation supports currently:

l 12 are from the 20 per cent most-deprived area postcodes in Scotland

l 7 have spent time in care and/or a homeless shelter/informal kinship setting

l 18 received free school 
meals

l 20 are the first in their family to attend university

The Lawscot Foundation is currently fundraising via ‘Baublefest’, our annual festive campaign, and we aim to raise £2500 by Christmas. This will cover the cost of a bursary for one student for a year. We’re asking you to donate. Not only will you support our fantastic Lawscot Foundation students to build their early careers, but you can also dedicate your bauble to say thank you to someone who helped you to get to where you are today.

We all have times when we have needed someone’s help, perhaps as a listening ear, wise mentor or committed cheerleader. All those people added up to get us to where we are today. As well as adding a physical bauble to our tree, we can send you a digital bauble which you can share on social media to express your thanks publicly. Donate now at www.lawscotfoundation.org.uk/baublefest.

The legal profession has really got behind the Lawscot Foundation in the last year, with many members getting involved in fundraising. On 12 March 2020 we are hosting our first-ever ‘battle of the bands’ – the Lexfactor Battle – at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange with all proceeds going to the charity. The event will feature up to eight bands showcasing that while they might be legal eagles by day, our legal colleagues are rock superstars by night. Go to www.lawscot.org.uk/lexfactor to register your band or buy tickets to be in the audience.

As we are coming up to the end of our 70th anniversary celebrations at the Law Society of Scotland it’s the perfect moment to focus on the future. The vision of a fair and open profession is at the very top of our agenda.

Olivia Moore is the interim Head of Careers & Outreach at the Law Society of Scotland, with oversight for the Lawscot Foundation. If you have any questions about the charity or would like more information about fundraising, please contact oliviamoore@lawscot.org.uk.