From education to employment

Sidley Launches Bursary Scheme for Law Undergraduates from Disadvantaged Backgrounds


March 9, 2022, London Sidley Austin LLP is pleased to announce the launch of its undergraduate bursary scheme for low socio-economic background students pursuing a career in law. The scheme, now open to applications, will provide £3,500 per academic year to five students from September 2022.

Sidley recognizes the importance of widening access to a career in law – and knows that easing financial barriers only forms one part of the solution. Successful applicants will therefore be eligible for work experience placements at the firm, including automatic entry to Sidley’s summer vacation scheme in their second year of study, provided they maintain a grade of 2.1 or higher each academic year. As well as continued financial support, the undergraduates will also be assigned a trainee solicitor as a mentor to support them for the duration of their studies and offer career guidance.

Potential candidates will be final-year school students who meet a set of criteria, which includes having an offer to read law at a UK university. Those eligible will be interviewed by a group of Sidley partners, as well as the Graduate Recruitment and Diversity Committees, to determine the final five students. Applicants will be assessed using the Rare Contextual Recruitment System1 to evaluate aptitude and potential, rather than final A-Level grades, to ensure an equitable review process.

The bursary will be run on a rolling basis, offering academically gifted students with a clear passion for a career in law the opportunity to attend university with some of the financial burden alleviated. Applications close on Monday, May 16, 2022, and the first payment of £1,666.66 will be made in September 2022. 

To ensure the scheme is viable for young people across the UK, the firm will provide accommodation in London during the interview process for those that require it and, should they be successful, their work experience placement.

Jerry Gallagher, International HR & Diversity Director, Sidley said: “We are proud to be launching our bursary scheme for less advantaged law students as part of our ongoing commitment to improving diversity across the industry. Our hope is that Sidley’s support will minimize the financial burden of undergraduate studies, allowing recipients to focus on their higher education and making the most of the all-important opportunities that university life has to offer.”

“We are confident that the opportunities offered to recipients alongside the financial aid will provide unparalleled insight into, and experience of, the work done at Sidley. As well as the connections, confidence, and relationships they will build along the way, we hope to give students an intimate look at life within an international law firm and guidance on how they can shape their own legal career.”

Katy Webb, Diversity & Corporate Responsibility Coordinator, Sidley added: “Recent findings from the UK Education Committee have exposed the achievement gap between financially disadvantaged students and their peers. This is something that corporates, alongside government bodies and charitable organisations, have a role in solving, and we hope programs such as Sidley’s bursary scheme are a step in the right direction.”

“The scheme recognizes the importance of financial as well non-financial support to develop the next generation of lawyers and has been designed with the hope of instilling confidence within recipients, whilst also arming them with the practical skills needed to pursue a successful career in the legal sector.”

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