Global firm CMS kicks off fourth year of state school student law degree bursary

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Scheme is designed to encourage sixth-formers from “disadvantaged backgrounds” to have a punt at legal profession


Applications opened today for the fourth year of a global legal practice scheme aimed at encouraging state school sixth-formers from “disadvantaged backgrounds” to apply for Russell Group law degrees.

Launched in 2012 by international franchised law firm CMS, the bursary programme offers successful applicants £2,500 for each year of their undergraduate law degrees.

This year, the practice — which bills itself as employing some 3,000 “law and tax experts” in 59 international offices — is offering five bursaries, including, for the first time, one in Scotland.

CMS bursary winners — as well as finalists — will also receive mentoring from a CMS lawyer throughout their UCAS application processes.

The latest instalment of the CMS scheme comes against the backdrop of a move in March by transatlantic firm Hogan Lovells also to assist so-called under-privileged students win and finance top university law school places.

According to CMS, 11 students have won bursaries since the scheme launched, while a total of 22 have received mentoring from partners and other CMS fee-earners. As a result, says the firm, students have been offered places on law degrees at a range of top universities, including Edinburgh, Durham, Bristol, the London School of Economics, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield.

In addition, the firm said that 17 students have had work experience at CMS, with another dozen to be offered intern places this year.

CMS senior partner Penelope Warne commented on the launch of this year’s scheme:

“It is important that we remove social barriers to a career in the law. The CMS bursary scheme reinforces our commitment to making the legal profession more accessible, regardless of background.”

While senior associate Sarah Hyde, who leads the initiative, added:

“The mentoring and support offered to students is a crucial aspect of the scheme — many of our students have never stepped foot inside a corporate or legal environment, and don’t have access to anyone at home who can share direct experience of university applications and preparing for professional interviews.”

Bursary applicants must have been at schools where more than 25% of pupils are eligible for free school meals or are themselves eligible for free school meals. They must also be in the first generation in their families to attend university.

Grades are also important. Applicants are expected to achieve ABB or equivalent at A-level, or AABB or ABBBB at Higher, or 320 points in five Scottish Highers.

The firm said it will select candidates for interview through an essay competition on a topic relevant to legal and ethical issues. The deadline for submitting essays is 1 July in Scotland and 22 July in the rest of the UK, with the winners being announced in September.


Hogan Lovells to sponsor undergrads in tie-up with LSE, York and Durham [Legal Cheek]