Freshfields and UCL launch new scholarships to tackle social mobility

20 February 2012

Freshfields and UCL launch new scholarships to tackle social mobility

International law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has entered into a partnership with the UCL Faculty of Laws to provide two scholarships per year for law students from socially and economically less privileged backgrounds.

As well as providing financial support, the scheme will see Freshfields offer successful candidates eight weeks paid work experience per academic year and the guarantee of a training contract interview, which, if successful, will see the students benefit from a grant covering the full cost of law school.

The scheme’s key features include:

  • eligible candidates will be students from socially and economically less privileged backgrounds, for example those who would become first generation graduates;
  • the promise of academic achievement and the potential to succeed as a City lawyer will be the key criterion: the interview process (which will be conducted jointly by Freshfields and UCL) will take into account the social circumstances of the candidates;
  • successful candidates will receive a £10,000 bursary from Freshfields to cover their maintenance expenses and will also be eligible to participate in UCL’s bursary scheme to provide additional support of up to 3,500, making it one of the most generous scholarships available at UCL;
  • additional mentoring support will be provided;
  • successful candidates will receive eight weeks paid work experience at Freshfields during each academic year whilst at UCL: additionally they will be invited to participate in Freshfields’ training and social programme throughout;
  • scholarship students will be guaranteed an interview for a training contract at Freshfields: if successful they will receive a grant covering the full cost of the legal practice course; and
  • the scholarship will commence for the 2012 academic year.

The UCL Laws Faculty is thrilled to be working with Freshfields to offer this opportunity to outstanding students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Dame Hazel Genn

Launching the initiative, Freshfields’ Senior Partner, Will Lawes, said: “Whether the legal profession likes it or not city law firms are seen as too remote and closed to many students and families from less privileged backgrounds. The purpose of this partnership with UCL is to provide students from less privileged backgrounds with a genuine opportunity of building a successful career in the law and is a further demonstration of Freshfields’ commitment to making social mobility a reality.

“By 2014 we will have six scholarships running at the same time and, whilst our financial contribution is important to these students, we believe our commitment to work experience and mentoring will be equally critical to their success.”

Professor Malcolm Grant, President & Provost of UCL, said: “At UCL we are committed to providing a world-class education to talented students regardless of their background.  UCL was founded in 1826 to open up education for the first time to students from any race, class or religion and this innovative partnership with Freshfields will help us continue in that tradition”.

Dame Hazel Genn, Dean of Laws at UCL, said: “The UCL Laws Faculty is thrilled to be working with Freshfields to offer this opportunity to outstanding students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. It is a significant contribution to the objective of improving social mobility.”

Lord McNally, Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice, said: “I am delighted to welcome this initiative and hope it encourages similar opportunities to be developed in future. This kind of financial and practical support is vital in enabling those from less privileged backgrounds to access the legal profession more readily.”

Freshfields partner, Barry O’Brien, who will be co-ordinating the scholarship, said: “This partnership with UCL takes work experience and mentoring to a different level. Whilst we are proud of our community and social responsibility programme this scheme tackles the issue of social mobility into the legal profession head on. With a guaranteed interview for a training contract and twenty four weeks work experience with the firm, the scholarship students will have the perfect platform for a successful career with us.”

Media contact: Ruth Howells

Image: Will Lawes, Dame Hazel Genn, Barry O'Brien, Professor Malcolm Grant


Links:

UCL Laws
Freshfields