i Belong

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Description


 

I Belong is a monthly club empowering students from backgrounds that are non-traditional for law. Every third Thursday of the month we will be bringing in a special guest to talk to I Belong about their unique experiences and how they have succeeded in bringing diversity and innovation to the profession.

 

Mission Statement

‘empowering students from non-traditional backgrounds to study and enter the profession with confidence’

 

Who is it for?

ibelong is for everyone who cares about the legal profession being representative of each and every section and inter-section within our society – but we aim to talk about the issues which relate to under-represented group both in higher education and in the legal profession.

Some groups of people are less likely to achieve the qualifications needed to study in higher education and these gaps in achievement are apparent from a young age. There is also inequality between groups once they get into higher education and some people are more likely to do well than others, even when their prior academic performance is the same. https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/promoting-equal-opportunities/our-approach-to-access-and-participation/the-challenge/

 

This is true also of the legal profession – solicitors https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/en/topics/research/diversity-profile-of-the-solicitors-profession-2019 and barristers https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/uploads/assets/88edd1b1-0edc-4635-9a3dc9497db06972/BSB-Report-on-Diversity-at-the-Bar-2020.pdf

 

Groups of students where data shows gaps in equality of opportunity in relation to access, progression or attainment are those who share the following particular characteristics

  • students from areas of low higher education participation, low household income or low socioeconomic status – Typically defined according to POLAR
  • some black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students
  • mature students (over 21 at UG and over 25 at PG)
  • disabled students
  • care leavers
  • carers
  • people estranged from their families
  • people from Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities
  • refugees
  • children from military families

 

Aims

  • To combat ‘outsiderdom’ and create a community which acknowledges background and difference and promotes confidence
  • To acknowledge, temper and normalise the heavy burden placed on those students whose family see them going to university as a way out of poverty or towards a better life
  • To tackle disenfranchisement from ones community, combat that hostility and potential isolation that comes from what may be perceived as ‘betterment’
  • To provide practical advice, mentoring and contacts from other persons from a similar background, as a substitute for what other students may be able to get from their parents or extended families/contacts
  • To hold up a mirror to the profession so that students can see themselves within it
  • Acknowledgement that students will at some point suffer prejudice due to race, culture, class, gender, disability, familial situation, sexual orientation, the list goes on…… and offer practical advice on dealing with it and taking ownership of it in a non-damaging way
  • To build a network upon which they can rely in the future

 

Zoom recording December 2020