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Leading the Way: A Case Study of Establishing an Employability Scheme at Coventry Law School

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Abstract

There is no such thing as the average law student. The national law student body is now more diverse than ever: such increased diversity has meant that the career aspirations of students are also becoming broader. The declining legal employment market (combined with the broad skill set gained by studying law) has meant that many LLB students finish their degree without planning on a professional career in law. As such, this chapter argues that change will be a constant feature of legal education and the legal sector for many years to come. Given the changing legal sector, higher education providers can no longer limit their law employability provision to the ‘barrister versus solicitor’ debate: as service users, students demand better value for their tuition fees. Of particular note is how often career aspirations may change between starting an undergraduate law programme and completing it. The changes to the professional vocational courses will have a knock-on impact on how and indeed whether students choose to study law. If current trends continue, it is highly likely that the legal employment market will remain saturated and other career sectors will become necessary for law graduates. It is increasingly important that law employability can adapt to the diverse needs of the law student body. At present, the multifaceted approach adopted by the Law Employability, Diversity and Enrichment (LEDE) scheme at Coventry Law School appears to be the one of the best methods for doing so. This small-scale survey of graduates confirms that the core aims of the LEDE scheme were in line with the needs and expectations of students and graduates. Further research needs to be undertaken however to more fully understand law students’ perspectives on the concept of legal employability and to best gauge how their needs can be met.

This chapter represents our experience of establishing an employability scheme at Coventry University. At the time, we had not anticipated that we would one day be writing about our experiences and as such, most of our data collection was informal, but with appropriate consents obtained.

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Fig. 32.1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The fact that the participants are in graduate level employment was not by design.

  2. 2.

    On the changes proposed by the new Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination see https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/law-careers/becoming-a-solicitor/sqe-overview/.

  3. 3.

    See further https://spark.adobe.com/page/VsyKKyMc5n23r/ (accessed 01.11.18).

  4. 4.

    ‘1st six’ pupillages in 2016/17: Pupillage is split into six-month blocks totalling at least a year.

  5. 5.

    For a comparison of these different methods with regards to law students, see Dickinson and Griffiths (2015).

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Lodge, H., Elliott, S. (2019). Leading the Way: A Case Study of Establishing an Employability Scheme at Coventry Law School. In: Diver, A. (eds) Employability via Higher Education: Sustainability as Scholarship. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-26342-3_32

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