Students handed £2.5k for each year of their law degree by City firm in socio-economic diversity push

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By Thomas Connelly on

CMS Cameron McKenna scheme one of the first to assist undergrads


International law firm CMS has revealed the winners of a law bursary scheme that sees disadvantaged state school students pocket £2,500 for every year of their law degree.

The programme — which is now in its fourth year — was launched in 2012 by the international franchised firm. The only other big City firms that Legal Cheek is aware of that sponsor undergraduates are Hogan Lovells and Mayer Brown.

The winners of this year’s bursaries, who had to be in their penultimate year at school to apply, were asked to submit an essay that addressed questions on either voting or freedom of speech.

CMS lawyers — who marked over 120 application essays — selected 20 finalists who were invited to assessment centres in London and Edinburgh.

Five bursaries were awarded in total, which will see five lucky aspiring lawyers receive a total of £10,000 if they study over four years. All 20 finalists will also receive expert guidance from a CMS lawyer, who will assist with their applications to university.

This year’s winners were Mia Bristow from Bristol, Abigail Clarke from Kent, Chyna Fairclough from Hampshire, Matthew McShane from Glasgow and Ece Osman from London. CMS did not disclose which universities the students will be attending.

As part of the bursary package, the five winners will also have an opportunity to undertake paid for work experience at the firm that trumpets itself as the “law and tax experts”.

Winner Mia Bristow, thankful for the financial assistance CMS will provide, said:

The bursary is an incredibly positive aid for me; I am now in no doubt that I will attend university, as the cost of higher education is no longer such a worry, and I feel as if I am being supported on my journey into university.

The scheme is open to students who are the first generation in their family to go to university. Applicants must have attended a school where either they or 25% of their fellow pupils were eligible for school meals. Furthermore applicants are expected to be on to achieve ABB or equivalent at A-level, or AABB or ABBBB at Higher, or 320 points in five Scottish Highers.

Sarah Hyde, the solicitor at CMS who leads the bursary team, commented:

This has been our most competitive year so far, with over 120 essays submitted, and an incredibly high standard achieved — choosing who would be awarded the bursaries has never been harder. I’m proud to be part of a programme that enables and supports extremely gifted and determined students, who may not have had the opportunity otherwise, to reach that crucial next step in their pursuit of a career in law.

According to CMS, 11 students — not including this year’s winners — have received bursaries since the scheme launched, while a total of 22 have received mentoring from the firm’s lawyers. Registration for the 2016 competition will open in the spring.

Other firms to offer funding for undergraduates include Hogan Lovells, which this year launched a diversity scheme to sponsor students at LSE, York and Durham to the tune of £18,000, and Mayer Brown, whose graduate apprenticeship commenced in September.


Global firm CMS kicks off fourth year of state school student law degree bursary [Legal Cheek]