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Meet Stephanie Boyce

Meet one of our six inspirational figures from the world of law: Stephanie Boyce, the 177th President of the Law Society of England and Wales.
I grew up, you know, with the sounds of the injustices ringing in my ears. I could see that people were struggling to exercise their rights, globally and domestically. And all of that had a profound effect on me. Later on, my family would relocate to America and America would have such a lasting impression upon me. I would be overwhelmed by the poverty, by people struggling to exercise their rights because of their low socioeconomic position, people having little or no rights because of the colour of their skin. And I wanted to be able to give the voiceless a voice.
And so that’s what absolutely drove me to study law.
What inspired me to pursue a career in law, I think, as I perhaps mentioned earlier, was the injustices unfolding around the world. My secondary schooling was done in the United States of America. And every Thursday as I remember it, I would go to school dressed in black because I was in mourning for the world, you know, as I saw it. But, you know, as I say, there were great figures around the world who were imprisoned, others who had lost their lives because of their pursuit for justice.
And so for me, that drove my absolute ambition, watching those who have made history in their pursuit of justice, those who were still making history, living by their ideas and, you know, just wanting equality for everyone, to have the same rights as their fellow citizens. And that’s what inspired me.
The law is important because it impinges on every aspect of our lives. For me, legal rights mean absolutely nothing if you don’t know when your rights are being taken away or indeed, you don’t know how to exercise, enforce those rights. So the law is important because it makes a remarkable difference. And if we think about the law, you know, from the chair I’m sat in now has been made to certain legislation, you know, it has to meet certain regulations; the house we live in, we go to the supermarket, you know, the food that’s on the shelves. Indeed the building would have been built according to planning law.
The law is around us and for me, it’s important that individuals know their rights. So we at The Law Society, for instance, know that the earlier people seek and receive legal advice, it stops potentially, a ripple effect leading to litigation. It cuts down on litigation. And people, you know, seeking to exercise their rights, will understand their rights and obligations and seek out advice earlier. And from a practitioner who is qualified, insured and regulated.
My ambition is to get law added to the national curriculum, you know, and for two reasons more so. One around access to justice; about the point that law touches most, lots of our lives, and what’s the point of legal rights if we don’t know what they are? But also from a social mobility aspect, you know, the law is seen, or the legal profession is seen as an elitist profession, a profession that doesn’t look like me, doesn’t sound like me, I don’t belong.
And so my ambition to getting law added to the national curriculum is that as our young citizens think about their future and as they navigate their way through the educational system, they start to think about the stepping stones, the roadmap that they have to lay to get a career in law. That’s whether it’s at GCSE level, some of the subjects that they may consider taking, or at A level, or indeed down to what university they wish to apply to. We know in the legal profession, we have a certain liking for certain universities, but not everybody realizes the impact perhaps, as to how that plays out in recruitment.
So for me, I was second year at university, before somebody said, have you applied to law school? Have you had work experience? And if you come from a low socioeconomic background, as I did, you know, first generation British, first to go to university, single parent household from a council estate, I did not have access to those networks from whence sponsors, mentors or work experience is drawn from. And if we start to get our young citizens thinking about a career in law, they start to think about those networks and how they can access them and how that will play out and inform their future career in law.

Stephanie Boyce is the 177th President of the Law Society of England and Wales – the independent professional body for solicitors.

She is the first BAME person to become President, and is determined that the Society be a force for change in the areas of equality, diversity, inclusion, social mobility and access to justice.

Watch this video to hear what inspired Stephanie Boyce to study and pursue a career in Law, why law is important, and why – in her view – its study is so important that she wants it to be part of the National Curriculum.


Now that you have heard from Stephanie Boyce, take a few minutes to reflect on these questions:

  • Did any points surprise you?
  • Do you feel like you learned something new about career paths in law?
  • What do you have in common with Stephanie Boyce?

Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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