Education, diversity and social mobility
The Commercial Court is committed to increasing the diversity of the Court and to improving access to the professions which appear in the Court. It is involved in projects that target both ends of the diversity timeline – entry into the professions and entry to the judiciary
Entry into the profession:
Work with Sutton Trust/Pathways to Law and the National Justice Museum via the Rolls Building Art and Education Trust (external link).
The Rolls Building Courts offer regular two-hour education programmes. The two-hour session takes place in a real working court room and consists of the following:
- Students are introduced to the role of the Rolls Building as part of the High Court
- Students work on a real legal case study based on a previous High Court or commercial dispute resolution case (which currently include an Intellectual Property dispute, a commercial Negligence case study and an Arbitration workshop)
- Students work alongside trainee barristers to prepare and enact their case
- Students take on roles such as claimants, defendants and judges, experiencing key aspects of a trial
- Students have the chance to meet a High Court judge, speak with them about their role and discus opportunities for pursuing a career in the law
We have also continued engagement with the Sutton Trust throughout COVID, participating in a number of online initiatives (including producing video segments about the courts’ work for the Sutton Trust virtual conference and participating in online workshops with students discussing legal problems specially designed for the events).
In 2021 the Commercial Court developed a pilot scheme (external link) following discussion with practitioners and IntoUniversity:
For summer 2022:
- The size of the scheme in London is being doubled, with students attending across the BPCs in London.
- The scheme is also being extended to three regional centres: Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle via the Circuit Commercial Courts.
The aim is to ensure that commercial law (which is rarely seen on screen) is introduced to a diverse range of students. This is one reason why a disappointingly small proportion of diverse students find their way into commercial law either as barristers or solicitors.
The aim is to do more to make a career in commercial law more visible, more relatable and more attainable.
The scheme is set up so that each candidate spends a day with a judge.
The day starts with an introductory talk by a couple of judges.
Each student then spends the day with an assigned judge in court.
The day concludes with an informal Q&A session with further judges and some younger practitioners.
The Court also assists with marshalling programmes designed to increase diversity which are offered by COMBAR and the Inns.
The Commercial Court is committed to offering focussed mentoring to a range of candidates aspiring to the High Court Bench who are realistic targets for the Rolls Building courts. This follows on from a Judicial Office scheme in partnership with CLLS in 2017-2018.
In autumn 2021 the court held a roundtable with the Law Society attended by Law Society President I Stephanie Boyce and representatives of all the major commercial solicitors organisations (CLLS, LSLA and CLF), Carr LJ and representatives of JAC to enable the courts and the JAC to try to identify some ways to assist less traditional candidates and help them to navigate the application process.
Contact has since been made with a number of prospective solicitor applicants for 9(4) Deputy High Court Judge roles and arrangements made to provide them with targeted one on one mentoring through the process. Other aspiring candidates are encouraged to make themselves known ether direct or through the Judicial Office diversity section.