Under-publicised scheme which pays almost a third of wannabe lawyers’ university fees quietly opens

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By Alex Aldridge on

City law firm’s bursary for state school students who are the first generation in their family to go to uni pays £2,500 a year — and application requires only a 750-word essay.


Applications for a little-known scholarship run quietly by a large international law firm opened this week to minimal fanfare.

CMS Cameron KcKenna’s ‘Bursary Scheme for Year 12 Students’ offers four legal hopefuls £2,500-a-year during their undergraduate law degrees — paid in monthly instalments of £190.

It is open to state school students who are the first generation of their family to go to uni, and either qualify for free school meals themselves or attend a school where more than 25% of pupils are eligible for free school meals. Applicants must also be on to get at least ABB at A-level, although scheme architect Sarah Hyde told Legal Cheek that there was some flexibility in this latter requirement.

“The essays are judged blind,” she explained, “So if one was amazing and the student was predicted below ABB, we’d speak to their teacher and look at it.”

To enter, students must register here and answer one of two essay topics on general legal issues: “‘It is never acceptable to break the law’ – do you agree?” or “Should the internet be policed?” Essays should be between 700-1,000 words and submitted by Thursday 17 July.

Based on the essays, a shortlist of 12 entrants will be invited to an assessment day at CMS Cameron KcKenna’s London offices on Tuesday 16 September. The four winners will get the cash, but everyone who makes it to the assessment day will be given one of the firm’s lawyers as a mentor to help them with their UCAS applications and LNAT test. They will also all get two days paid work experience at the firm.

Of the thinking behind the scheme, Hyde said:

“A lot of firms are getting better at placing less weight on candidates’ backgrounds at the vacation scheme and training contract stages. We wanted to look at the stage before that and help people get to the best universities they can.”

More information about the rules government the scheme can be found here. You can apply here.