The Nottingham Law School alumni shining a light on the value of a modern law school education
A group of legal professionals have joined together to nurture and support those currently working in the industry to promote the value of studying at a modern law school.
NRG Lawyers was originally formed by three Nottingham Law School (NLS) alumni – Akil Hunte, Waleed Tariq and Billy Shaw. It has since grown and now comprises 11 legal professionals.
The organisation aims to pave the way for non-Russell Group students and graduates in their legal careers, by offering guidance, support, and advocating for the people at the top to enact change in the industry. They plan to achieve this through the provision of support services including mentoring, coaching, events, workshops, competitions, and by creating lasting partnerships with law firms and chambers.
“Every year, thousands of law students graduate from law schools in the UK,” said NRG Lawyers Chair and trainee solicitor Akil Hunte (BA Hons Law 2018). “A huge proportion of them are from non-Russell Group universities.
“As well as supporting those people through training and mentoring, it’s our mission at NRG Lawyers to promote the benefits of hiring someone who trained at a non-Russell Group establishment. We want the profession to know that lawyers who train elsewhere – in my case NLS – receive first-class teaching, learn in fantastic facilities, and benefit from the many vocational opportunities a modern law school has to offer.”
It is a view shared by fellow NLS alum and NRG Lawyers founder Waleed Tariq (Bachelor of Law LL.B 2015).
“I had a fantastic education and enjoyed opportunities that my peers from other institutions didn’t,” Waleed says. “NLS Legal – the school’s teaching law firm – taught me such a lot about working on practical, real-world law cases. It’s a unique offer for students and what I learned there was completely invaluable. It gave me the best possible kind of practical legal exposure.”
Akil and Waleed are keen to make the point that their activities are not intended to criticise Russell Group organisations, or those who attend.
“This is all about levelling the playing field,” Akil says. “We acknowledge they work to very high standards and that their students are very committed. In fact, we’ve recently had a lawyer join us who trained at a Russell Group institution. It’s the industry itself we’re trying to change – and hopefully through a process of inclusion and collaboration.”
One aspect of the legal profession NRG Lawyers find especially positive is the attitudes of their clients.
“They are less concerned about a lawyer’s alma mater,” says Akil, “and more interested in your abilities and the excellent service you provide.
“They don’t look at which university you went to,” he says. “They want to know if you’re talented, if you can do the job well, provide good value for money – and if they can get along with you. These are all skills I learned at NLS.”
In highlighting this issue, is there a risk NRG Lawyers will alienate certain parts of their industry?
“I genuinely feel that in the majority of cases,” says Akil, “people only respond negatively out of fear of what we’re trying to highlight. We see ourselves as helping to make our industry more diverse, more inclusive, and more socially mobile. That’s got to be something we can all welcome in 2023.”
It’s a view shared by Jenny Chapman, Executive Dean of Nottingham Law School.
"We’re extremely proud to be part of NRG Lawyers. Our shared values and vision ensure success for all and break down barriers that will positively impact the legal profession and beyond."
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