Law school costs shut out poorer students, Cherie Blair claims
Rocketing law school fees make it almost impossible for students from less advantaged social backgrounds to qualify as lawyers, Cherie Blair, QC, has argued.
The wife of the former prime minister, Tony, and prominent employment law barrister, who is the joint founding partner of a transatlantic practice, claimed that the chances of working-class students becoming lawyers were lower now than in the 1970s.
Blair, who founded Matrix Chambers in Gray’s Inn in 2000 but left to set up Omnia Strategy in London and Washington, read law at the London School of Economics before doing the vocational course at the then College of Law. “I got a full maintenance grant to the LSE,” Blair told the Times Higher Education magazine. “My fees were paid and Lancashire County Council even paid the fees for my Bar finals.”
Blair was particularly critical of the costs of the conversion course for non-law graduates, the graduate diploma in law. She told the magazine that she often advises students to study law as undergraduates to avoid the cost of converting. “The expense is great, [so] whenever I go to schools and talk to [students] about law [I] encourage them to do law because at least they save [the] expense of a conversion course, which is a lot of money if you don’t have parents who can pay for it.”
The silk went on to say that schools often discourage students from reading law and instead recommend the conversion course route without taking the costs into account.