Leading the Way: A case study of establishing an employability scheme at Coventry Law School

Harriet Lodge, Susie Elliott

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

There is no longer such a thing as the average law student. The national law student body is now more diverse then it ever has been with students from a wide range of backgrounds. In light of this, the career outcomes of law students have also diversified. Furthermore, the legal sector has also changed with employers seeking candidates with broader skills sets. As such, legal employability in law schools can no longer afford to be two dimensional.

In 2015, Coventry Law School established the Law, Employability, Diversification and Enrichment Scheme or as it was more snappily known, LEDE. Prior to this, there had been limited employment support for the law students and there was a lack of clear, practicable pathway for them to follow. Therefore, the aim of the LEDE Scheme was to present law students with a way of enhancing their professionalism and maximising their chance of success once they left the university. The scheme was highly successful and was fortunate enough to be awarded with a prize of excellence by the University. As LEDE reaches its third anniversary and a new phase within the Law School, now is an apt time to consider some of the challenges that were faced, which mainly originated from the students themselves, and how legal employability has to adapt to suit the varied needs of law students today.

The first issue regarded the breadth, or in some cases lack, of future aspirations that the students possessed. When the scheme began, it was focussed on traditional legal career with odd 'alternative legal careers' sessions thrown into the mix. The LEDE team soon came to realise that in doing so we were directly alienating a significant proportion of the student body who were unsure about, or not planning on going into practise. Feedback* suggested that as students approached their final year of study a number of factors (results, money, and commitment to further training) were causing uncertainty. This is turn led to a secondary challenge of maintaining student engagement with the scheme. Once the novelty factor of the scheme wore off, student sign up for events dropped significantly. The team found themselves in a cycle of feedback and review, concluding that whilst employability was valued by students, many wanted it 'on demand'. The final challenge faced by the scheme was one of sustainability. The initial format of the scheme, whilst successful initially, was not sustainable over a long period of time and new methods of delivering employability support were required

From the challenges faced by the LEDE scheme, the authors propose that lessons be drawn from the way in which employability support is provided to students as service users. There is a need to adapt to the broadening of the legal sector and those that are coming through to occupy it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEmployability via Higher Education: Sustainability as Scholarship
EditorsAlice Diver
PublisherSpringer
Chapter32
Pages503-512
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-3030263416
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

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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 A. Diver (Ed.), Employability via Higher Education: Sustainability as Scholarship (pp. 503-512). Springer.