Hogan Lovells to sponsor undergrads in tie-up with LSE, York and Durham

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Exclusive: Global law firm to award first and second years up to £18,000 in bid to broaden access to profession


The London office of transatlantic giant Hogan Lovells has unveiled a partnership with LSE and the universities of York and Durham to help fund law students through their undergraduate degrees.

The scheme, which comes three years after the government trebled the cost of undergraduate fees, will see two students from each institution awarded a maximum of £9,000 per year in their first and second years of study — giving them a total award of up to £18,000.

The cash comes from an overall funding pot of £150,000 earmarked by the firm for the programme to be used over the next three to five years.

Recipients of the bursary will be chosen by the three partner universities on the basis of need and merit. Criteria will include being the first member of a family to have gone to university and the standard of a student’s schooling relative to the grades they obtained.

Significantly, those given the cash will be under no obligation to go on to work for Hogan Lovells. Instead, the firm will offer optional mentoring and careers advice opportunities to the students.

This marks the programme out from the much larger scale funding packages for the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and Legal Practice Course (LPC) offered by the big law firms. These deals see the costs of postgraduates’ study covered on the condition that they join the firm that is sponsoring them.

Speaking to Legal Cheek, Clare Harris, Hogan Lovells’ associate director of legal resourcing, emphasised the difference between such packages and what is a diversity-led initiative. She commented:

“The Hogan Lovells Bursary Scheme is about our commitment to social mobility issues and the wider theme of good citizenship. Whether the students go on to join us, or pursue careers elsewhere in the law is not the issue here. Rather, we want to support the ambitions of people who may be put off going to university because of the costs involved.”

Harris added that the firm saw the scheme as a way to contribute to universities’ outreach initiatives, which would leverage the Hogan Lovells brand in a mutually beneficial way.

“When, for example, Durham and York go out to students in the former industrial towns of the North East and Yorkshire, hopefully students will be motivated by the fact that a major firm like Hogan Lovells is taking an interest in them. At the same time, it is a way for us to get our brand out more widely,” she said.

Meanwhile, the universities involved have all expressed their enthusiasm for the initiative, with Durham Law School chief Professor Roger Masterman echoing the sentiments of his counterparts at LSE and York when he described the bursary as a “life-changing amount” that “will make a huge difference” to students. He added that it will allow the beneficiaries of the money to dedicate more time to their studies, reducing the amount of part-time work they have to do.

The scheme has just got underway at LSE and Durham, with the first bursaries set to be awarded to first year students at the institutions this term, and it will commence from September at York. Advertisements for the funding will be targeted at sixth-formers and awarded when the individuals start their first year at university.

Currently, the only comparable initiative in the legal profession is CMS Cameron McKenna’s ‘Bursary Scheme for Year 12 Students’, which offers four students £2,500-a-year during their undergraduate law degrees. It is awarded on the basis of an annual essay competition.

If the Hogan Lovells scheme is successful, Harris says that the firm will look at extending it to other universities across the country.


Not Amused

1) I have always thought York University deserves more respect than it gets. Not least of all because it interviews its prospective candidates. We never get to talk about things like this because people spend too much time trying to attack Oxbridge …

2) I am not happy with a law firm pretending that using partner universities somehow targets social mobility. The idea that Durham and York are full of local kids whose dad works down t’mine or in t’mill is risible and patronising. If you haven’t got enough cash to give to every uni, if you don’t think giving more to Oxbridge will get results, then just own up and say so.

3) We have and have always had about 10 to 15 universities in the country (possibly 20 if you twist my arm, I’m not actually counting as I type) which are any good. That is a good thing. We should spend more time and effort focusing on these. The big firms should carve them up between themselves and each give more money to these unis. Oxbridge is a part of that. Certain people’s visceral hatred of Oxbridge has always rather detracted from this point

4) No, that does mean that there are still some very bad unis outside this group who we shouldn’t waste cash on. We have finite money. Wasting the cash we have does not help poor kids. Lying or believing whole heartedly in some dogmatic ideology that ‘all unis are equal’ is a complete waste of time – you will only irritate me, everyone who matters will ignore you.


Durham Grad

In 3 years at Durham, I met one solitary person who actually came from Co Durham, and only about 20 or so people who were not middle class Southerners like me.

It is a great university with a generally excellent faculty, and more poor kids should be encouraged to go there, especially given its ‘rah’ reputation. Roughly half the students there fit the public school stereotype to about 80-90%. Even for a middle class grammar school student like myself, being constantly questioned about what school I went to during fresher’s week, and being surrounded by people from Eton, Marlborough, Wycombe Abbey etc etc who all somehow know each other already, was incredibly daunting.

It should be appealing to poorer kids because the cost of living is so low in the North East that they can live a decent student life with less money at their disposal.

I question the quantities, though. Certainly at Durham 9,000 per year is more than any student needs considering the grant and loans that are also available. Surely it would be better to provide four scholarships of 4,500 each, which would just about cover housing and food costs for a year.


Lenin's left foot

Very well put Durham Grad. Just you wait until you’re at the GDL/LPC stage – BPP Law School is literally swarming with toffs and rahs. I’ve got six of them in my tutorial group alone: daddy’s connections-gained TCs, double-barreled surnames, red trousers and pretentious accents obviously included.

Having said that, the other 13 classmates are perfectly nice and friendly people who are just trying hard to get through the course.


Durham Grad

I’m not chippy or anything, and have some extremely close friends from toffy backgrounds, all of whom are now doing particularly well for themselves. It’s just that I am a very outgoing and self-confident middle class grammar schooler who arguably had as good an education as any of them. I dread to think how Northern teenagers from failing comprehensives would feel.

The toffs don’t mean it either – most are fundamentally nice people who just don’t understand that asking someone where they went to school, forcing them to say ‘oh, this comp in so-and-so town you wouldn’t have heard of it’ cements the divide between the classes.

It’s a problem at Durham that should be addressed because a lot of the rich kids just fundamentally are not that smart, and I worry they take up places that should go to more innately bright kids who have succeeded without spoon feeding.



Durham Grad, you might be surprised to hear this but there are middle class people in the North. We even have private schools & grammar schools here – it’s all very progressive!


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