Lord Justice Vos speaking at the event
On the 9th September 2015, Big Voice London held it's first fundraising event at Lincoln's Inn. Over the course of the evening guests heard speeches from Lord Justice Vos, Farhan Dawood (alumni of Big Voice London and now Management Board member), in addition to both myself and my fellow Director Emily Lanham.
Lord Justice Vos gave a speech outlining the importance of Big Voice London in the effort to improve diversity in the legal profession. Lord Justive Vos stated:
"I want to talk tonight about the importance of Big Voice London and organisations like it. As you will hear Big Voice London has a number of flagship projects that include the quite unique Model Law Commission and the Supreme Court mooting competition. But what is less often spoken about is why these projects are so important. My view has always been that the barriers to entry to the legal profession are far too high for those from less privileged backgrounds who have no family background in the law or in other professions.The main barriers are financial ones lack of proper advice andguidance in schools about how to get into the law, lack of available work experience or internships for the less privilegedso that their aspirations can be kindled and their drive harnessed...
Projects that get young people involved with legal thinking at an early stage can make a real impression in allowing their participants to overcome at least the last three of these barriers. The financial ones are perhaps more difficult.
1. But first,participation in mooting and in projects like the Model Law Commission enables young talented students to meet people in the legal profession and get some of the informationadvice and guidance they need. Believe methe more privileged students get this advice any day from the uncles and family friends already in the profession.
2. From making contacts by participating in these projects students will stand a much better chance of being able to arrange appropriate internships that everyone now needs if they are to enter the legal profession. I still think that there should be restrictions on offering internships outside a regulated scheme to which everyone can have access but I think we are a long way from that right now.
3.Thirdly the selection procedures adopted particularly at the Bar demand a high level of insight into the profession you are trying to join. The earlier you participate in projects like those run by Big Voicethe greater your chances of acquiring that insight."
Lord Justice Vos then continued to explain why the legal profession could clearly benefit from recruiting trainees and pupils from diverse backgrounds. To read the full speech, click below:
From the left: Amy Wills (volunteer), Farhan Dawood (alumni) & Rebecca Morgan (volunteer)
Farhan Dawood, a Big Voice London alumus also spoke at the event. Farhan is now reading Law at City University in London and spoke about how participating in Big Voice London's projects inspired him to continue with his studies and begin working towards a career in the legal profession. He is now on the Big Voice London Management Board, providing us with a student's perspective on how we can improve and expand our programme of activities.
Both myself and Emily, my Co-Director also gave speeches at the event explaining what Big Voice London does and how we are seeking to grow. We outlined our plans to register as a charity and ultimately reach and engage as many students across London and eventually the country, as possible. I spoke of our need for additional funding in order to register as a charity, which many guests kindly responded to by donating to the project in the following weeks. As a result of the generousity following the event, particularly from both Cohen Davis Solicitors and Horsey Lightley Solicitors, we are now in a position to register as a charity and the funds we have raised will go towards building upon the project's success over the coming months. If you would like to donate to Big Voice London, please either email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here: http://www.bigvoicelondon.co.uk/#!get-involvedbigvoicelondon/cecw
Overall the event was a resounding success, with guests from a wide range of backgrounds attending. We hope this will be an annual event, where will have the opportunity to celebrate the hard work of our students and volunteers throughout the year.
From the left: Daveena Ogene (Trustee and Solicitor), Yair Cohen (Trustee and Solicitor from Cohen Davis Solicitors) & Adam Bookman (Trainee Solicitor from Cohen Davis Solcitors)
From the left: Nim Njunga (Trustee) and Steven Barrett (Trustee and Barrister at Radcliffe Chambers)
From the left: Lord Justice Vos and Joshua Rosenberg
From the left: Mark Fenhalls QC (Chair of the Criminal Bar Association and Barrister at 23 Essex Street) and Rebecca Toman (Senior Associate at Carter-Ruck Solicitors)