A&O ramps up financial support for underprivileged aspiring lawyers

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Six bursaries of £15k up for grabs

Allen & Overy is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to social mobility, with the news that it’s tripling the amount of financial support available under its bursary scheme.

The three-year programme offers both financial and non-financial assistance to students who have participated in either of the magic circle player’s social mobility programmes, A&O Accelerate or Smart Start.

A&O has upped the number of bursaries from two to six as well as increased the amount awarded from £10,000 to £15,000. This, the firm said, equates to an investment of £270,000 over three years.

On top of having attended one of the two programmes, A&O says successful recipients will have “high potential” with a particular interest in a career in law.

The firm said one of the bursaries will go to a student who identifies as being of Pakistani heritage, in memory of banking partner Atif Hanif, who sadly passed away in December 2019 following a battle with cancer. Hanif was “instrumental” in setting up the firm’s Muslim network.

Vimal Tilakapala, lead partner for the A&O bursary programme, said:

“We know that those from lower socio-economic backgrounds have access to fewer opportunities and that’s unacceptable. The pandemic has hit less well-off students harder than their wealthier peers, with job cuts and reduced working hours putting many in situations of even greater financial hardship than they were before.”

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He continued: “That’s why it is so important that A&O is stepping up its support now by combining financial and non-financial assistance. There’s no reason why someone who may come from a less privileged background should not be able to have as much success as anyone else.”

A&O isn’t the only member of the magic circle upping its social mobility efforts.

As reported by Legal Cheek, Linklaters has teamed up with Oxford Uni to mentor legally-minded sixth form students from “less advantaged” backgrounds as part of a two-year support programme, while Freshfields is hoping to tackle so-called social mobility ‘cold spots’ with a mentoring scheme which sees college goers take part in work experience and skills sessions led by its lawyers and staff.

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