First ever LegalTalent contest sees sisters clinch £5,000 prize for diversity-focused mooting scheme

Nottingham University law student Queenie Djan and Leigh Day events manager Yolanda Kibuukamusoke have won Legal Week’s inaugural LegalTalent competition, for a proposal aiming to boost diversity in the legal progression.

The sisters clinched the prize for their ‘Lawyer Like Me’ scheme, which would link law firms with secondary schools and then organise and host moots focused on minority students.

The Dragons’ Den-style process saw Djan and Kibuukamusoke face a panel of high-profile names from the legal profession, including World Bank general counsel Sandie Okoro, KPMG UK GC Jeremy Barton, ITV GC Andrew Garard and former Anheuser-Busch InBev chief legal officer Sabine Chalmers.

The panel praised the quality of all the 15 finalists presenting their ideas at the LegalWeek CONNECT event, which has taken place at London’s Institution of Engineering and Technology during the past two days

Presenting the winning duo with their £5,000 prize money, Garrard said the standard of their pitch was “incredible”.

“The intention of their idea is to get young people to realise that they too can think like a lawyer. For people who don’t think they could have this type of career, this could show them they can,” he said.

The judges were so impressed by the quality of the entries that they chose two for unplanned highly commended awards.

The highly commended entries came from Paul Robinson Solicitors property paralegal Laura Gale for her YourLaw Portal idea, which aims to improve access to the profession through an online portal containing case details; and Durham University pair Alexandros Athanasopoulos and Shivani Tara Munshani, who want to reform mental health and wellbeing policies within the legal profession with their Illuminate project.

Chalmers pledged £2,000 of her own money to support the two highly commended teams and also offered them ongoing mentoring and advice, as did the other judges. She said: “The future of the profession is in really strong and safe hands, demonstrated by such enthusiastic and passionate young people.”