Legal Education, Discrimination and the Legal Profession


Event Dates: 17 – 21 June 2013 B34
Birkbeck Main Building
Birkbeck, University of London
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HX

The Birkbeck School of Law presents:

Law on Trial 2013: Legal Utopias: The Future of Law and Legal Education

Against a background of profound changes in higher education policy, and in the year in which the Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) will report its findings to its sponsoring regulators in May 2013, the School of Law at Birkbeck places legal education on trial in this week of free lectures and workshops.

With roundtable discussions featuring distinguished legal academics, novelists, journalists and political activists, who explore the influence of legal education and legal educators on the wider cultural and social landscape, this is a trial not to be missed!

Take part as we debate the future of the School of Law, positioned in a climate where both publicly funded and privately sourced legal education providers battle with high fees and an ever expanding competitive market. Have your say over access to legal education as our panels explore whether legal academics should confront challenges of widening participation by developing a culture of pro bono – offering legal education freely outside their universities/colleges.


Thursday 20 June 2013

Legal Education, Discrimination and the Legal Profession

Chaired by Professor Matthew Weait

At a time when access to the legal profession is harder than ever for those who meet the formal conditions for training, this session will explore barriers to entry.

Lisa Webley, Professor of Empirical Legal Studies at the University of Westminster, will deliver a talk entitled Cultural Capital, the Legal Profession and Indirect Discrimination. Drawing on data derived from a series of socio-legal empirical projects focused on the workings of the legal profession, the talk will provide some context on the changing demography of the legal profession(s). It will consider the legal profession’s use of proxies (markers of cultural capital) for hiring and promotion with reference to Bourdieu’s theory of human capital, and set out how those proxies and processes may lead to unintended consequences including indirect discrimination against Black Asian and Minority Ethnic and women (would-be) lawyers. However, it also posits that some of the challenges and opportunities that the legal profession(s) face in the near future, including alternative business structures, may begin to subvert the operation of those proxies.

The talk will be a provocative intervention, and there will be formal responses to it from law students aspiring to enter the profession. There will also be plenty of opportunity for questions from the audience.

Introduction by Professor Matthew Weait (Birkbeck):






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