Scheme of the Semester: Pathways to Law

Happy 2022 everybody! It’s once again a new semester and therefore a new Scheme of the Semester post. This time we’ll be going through the Pathways to Law scheme, which is run by the Sutton Trust. The University of Manchester, alongside lots of other top universities, such as LSE, the University of Oxford and Newcastle University, are partners in this scheme, which aims to support students who are interested in an education and career in the law sector. It is a two-year scheme, starting in the first term of Year 12 and finishing in the final term of Year 13.

Let’s learn all about the Pathways to Law scheme, how to apply, who is eligible and the benefits!

What is Pathways to Law?

The Pathways to Law scheme is run by The Sutton Trust and supports young people in pursuing an education and career in Law. The 2021 – 2023 programme will initially take place virtually until activities are able to be delivered safely face-to-face. At this point Pathways to Law will transition to a mixed delivery format where in person events run alongside the resources on Sutton Trust Online.

The scheme offers a varied programme of events both on and off campus, all relating to the Law sector. For example, Pathways to Law students get the opportunity to: attend university events, attend a summer school (either virtually or at Warwick University) and get mentor support from a current Law undergraduate at the University of Manchester.

Students will also undertake at least one work experience placement at a leading law firm, barrister’s chambers or legal organisation in Manchester city centre. This placement provides valuable experience, which you can then include on a personal statement or CV!

So, essentially- Pathways to Law is designed to give you lots of information and first-hand experience of what it is like to both study and work in the legal profession! All Pathways sessions and work placements are scheduled to sit alongside your studies, taking place in the evenings, holiday periods or weekends, and avoiding any examination periods.

How to apply

Applications for Pathways to Law open very early on in Year 12, for example- for the 2021-2023 cohort, applications opened on the 1st September 2021. Therefore, it is a good idea to start thinking about your application during your Year 11 and check up on the Sutton Trust website after you have received your GCSE results to see when applications open/close so that you do not miss the application window! Each year the University of Manchester Law department recruit 35 students for this scheme. You can apply for Pathways to Law through the application form on the Sutton Trust website:

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the Pathways to Law programme you must be:

  • In Year 12 at the start of the programme.
  • Be attending, and always have attended, a state, non-fee-paying school/college.
  • If applying for in-person Pathways to Law, then live/study a reasonable distance from the University of Manchester (e.g., Greater Manchester area). If this is not the case then you can still apply for Pathways to Law online.

In addition, the more of the following criteria you meet, the more likely you are to be offered a place on the programme:

  • Have achieved five grades 9 – 6 at GCSE, including English and Mathematics. A minimum of two of these qualifications should be at grades 9 – 7. This is equivalent to five GCSEs at A* – B in the old system, with two grades at A* – A.
  • Be the first generation in their family to attend university.
  • Have been in receipt of Free School Meals whilst at secondary school.
  • Have attended schools with a lower than average progression to higher education, or a higher than average proportion of students who qualify for free school meals.
  • Live in a neighbourhood with a low rate of progression to higher education or a high level of socio-economic deprivation.
  • Have been looked after or in care.
The benefits

There are many benefits to applying for the Pathways to Law scheme, such as the previously mentioned work experience in the law sector, mentor support from a current undergraduate student and opportunity to attend a summer residential, where you can attend skills workshops, networking events, career talks and university fairs. By taking part in Pathways to Law, you will also have the opportunity to meet and talk to current legal professionals and receive support in things such as writing your personal statement and interview preparation.

Students who successful complete the Pathways to Law programme, will also receive a one-grade drop on all Law courses at The University of Manchester. For example, requirements for the LLB Law course (A*AA) would be a reduced offer of AAA.

In addition to this, Pathways to Law students are 3.5 times more likely to apply to a leading university and 4 times more likely to accept an offer from a leading university (information taken from the Sutton Trust website)!

Student experiences

Here is what some University of Manchester students who have previously completed Pathways to Law have to say about the programme:

“The most important thing that I can take away from this programme is to never doubt myself. I never thought that I was capable of meeting Judges and lawyers from global firms, or even stepping into their firms. And here I am today attending a gazillion different law firms for open days, and meeting different lawyers, and networking confidently. Not to mention the contacts I made during my work experiences provided by Pathways!”

“I made some amazing friends on the programme whilst at the same time experiencing law as a profession first-hand, something which would not have been previously available to me. This definitely solidified my decision to pursue a degree in Law and has contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the course as I already know a lot of things which others don’t, such as the steps that need to be taken in order to pursue a career in the future.”

“My advice to new students who are about to study the programme is to make the most of it! Ask as many questions as you could possibly think of, gain as many contact details as you can, connect with people on LinkedIn and enjoy it! Pathways to Law is such a unique and invaluable opportunity that you will not get elsewhere. It will help you with your legal career immensely and so, it is important that you attend every session you possibly can and make the most of it because it will be so beneficial to anyone looking to pursue a career in the legal sector.”

Where to find out more…

So- hopefully this Scheme of the Semester post has explained a lot about the Pathways to Law programme! However, here are some places to go for more information:

The Sutton Trust website:

The UoM Pathways to Law page:

The UoM Pathways to Law email address (for any questions you have about the programme):