Managing Uncertainty and Risk in Access to the Solicitors’ Profession in England: Classed Pathways?

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Despite decades of diversity and widening participation initiatives, access to elite professions for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds remains a troublingly persistent issue. Degree apprenticeships present an alternative to the traditional university pathway and an opportunity to increase social mobility into professional occupations. Yet, uptake of this pathway has so far been from more advantaged individuals. This article explores the dispositions of key stakeholders towards alternative pathways. It asks whether professional apprenticeships are perceived as legitimate and, if not, what are the likely consequences? Using the solicitors’ profession in England as a pertinent case, interviews with 23 participants on the degree apprenticeship and university pathways were asked about their social and educational backgrounds, exploring the influences on their career and pathway decision making. The analysis demonstrates differing perceptions of risk and legitimacy among those from different social and educational backgrounds, with implications for equity, inequality and social mobility.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Early online date5 Sept 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023


  • decision making; degree apprenticeships; higher education; inequalities; legal profession; social class; social mobility; socio-economic background

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