21 Feb 2012, David Woods, HRO
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.
Eligible candidates will be students from socially and economically less privileged backgrounds, for example those who would become first generation graduates.
The scheme gives these candidates, 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;
They will also receive mentoring and 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.
Σcholarship 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
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."
Malcolm Grant, president & provost of UCL, said: "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."
Lord McNally, minister of state for the Ministry of Justice, added: "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.
The scholarship will commence for the 2012 academic year.