Current student Jessica Lamb is the Disabled Students’ Officer for our Student’s Union. Having used our Disability Support and Inclusion Services during her own studies, she knows the impact disability support can have to a student’s education and career prospects. We caught up with Jessica to discuss her role as well as the services our disabled students access when they study with us.
I have several disabilities myself, including a lifelong chronic illness, and I wanted to support others who may be struggling with similar things to me. I graduated in 2017, and when my health took a turn for the worse, I never truly believed that I would be able to fulfil my dream of becoming a solicitor. At that point, just completing the LPC was such a daunting task. Thankfully, through support from the University and Student Finance, that dream is becoming a reality. I want to help others achieve their goals, both in education and their future career, and to try and prevent anyone else from feeling the way I did.
I’m still fairly new in my position, having only started in September. However, based on my own personal experience, the current climate of the UK is definitely affecting the mental health leading to an increase in the support needed for not only disabled students, but all students.
My role consists of assisting disabled students with their needs, bringing awareness of different disabilities to other students, and trying to balance the playing field a little bit. I’m currently looking at organising events to help support student mental health, as well as looking at getting a sign language class up and running.
There are several organisations that are directly supporting future lawyers, such as Aspiring Solicitors, which has personally been an incredible help to me. The University’s Disability Support and Inclusion Team has also been wonderful in establishing additional support during my studies and exams, as well as Student Finance England’s Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) Team. The DSA team does an individual assessment for any student who has a disability and does everything they can to get you in the perfect place to succeed.
Currently, 20% of the UK are classified as having a disability, however less than 5% overall of lawyers (both barristers and solicitors) are disabled. Making ourselves and other universities more accessible for all types of disabilities would enable more people to complete their training and have the same access to the legal field as their cohort.
I would advise any student who feels they need some extra support during their studies to reach out to their Disability Support and Inclusion Team, and for any suffering from some sort of financial hardship to look at the Aspiring Solicitors Fund.
For students wanting to support disability representation within law, they can support charities and organisations (either financially or through volunteering) that are there to help disabled individuals.
You can learn more about supporting disability in law at the following places:
- Aspiring Solicitors
- Citizens Advice Bureau
- Enhance the UK
In my time in the role the training has been wonderful, and the University has been incredibly supportive of my ideas which I’m hoping to implement very soon.
If you feel uncomfortable asking for help, looking on some of the sites I’ve listed above may be a great starting point. If you’re unsure where to start, if you’re a University of Law student, please feel free to reach out to me or the Disability and Inclusion team. My inbox is always open.
Learn more about how our Disability and Inclusion Service supports students studying with us.