From education to employment

Three pupillages, two scholarships and a Neuberger Prize for OU students and alumni as the legal profession embraces diversity

Three recent graduates from The Open University Law School have been offered a pupillage in an incredible coup for the Law School and its alumni.

It comes at the same time that two students have been offered a prestigious Stephen Lawrence Scholarship at Freshfields, designed to address the disproportionate under-representation of black and black-mixed race men from less privileged backgrounds in large commercial law firms.

And, in another exciting yet well-deserved win, for the second successive year an OU student is a Lincoln’s Inn Neuberger Prize winner and will receive free membership of Lincoln’s Inn, among other prizes.

The deserving Open University students and graduates come from a diverse range of backgrounds, demonstrating the progress that the legal profession is making in terms of diversity and inclusion.

Hugh McFaul, Head of the OU Law School, said: “With only 400 pupillages available annually and 6,000 law students vying for them, this is wonderful news for the OU’s Law School and its alumni and students.

“The Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship is designed to broaden access to careers in commercial law, and we are delighted to have two students who have been awarded the Scholarship. Similarly, the Lincoln’s Inn Neuberger Prize is an excellent achievement – there is much to celebrate for the Law School.

“Improving access to the profession through scholarships and awards is an excellent way of opening up the legal profession to diverse groups of people. It is essential that lawyers reflect the society they serve.

“We are incredibly proud of each and every one of these students and graduates – their achievements are so well deserved. We wish them every success.”

Harrie Austin-Jones – pupillage

Harrie Austin-Jones, who became the first ever OU student to secure a place on the University of Oxford’s world-renowned postgraduate law course in 2020, is all set to begin his pupillage at Hollis Whiteman.

Harrie came to the OU from a career in the construction industry and says the OU changed his life in every way imaginable. He believes he is living proof that, whatever your existing qualifications and background, your dream career isn’t as far away as you might think.

He said: “My OU studies changed my life in every way possible. Following my OU degree, I was able to undertake a Master’s degree at one of the best institutions in the world – outside of the OU of course. I have also succeeded in obtaining pupillage with QEB Hollis Whiteman in criminal law to start in September 2022.”

Laurie-Elizabeth Ketley – pupillage

Single mum Laurie-Elizabeth went from living in hostels with her little boy in 2015 to graduating from the OU and receiving the Baroness Hale of Richmond Scholarship at Gray’s Inn in 2021. Now, she’s beginning a pupillage at 3PB Barristers in Birmingham.

Laurie-Elizabeth said: “I am a testament to the fact that you can overcome hardship and keep going! Sometimes OU students wonder if there’s a stigma attached to OU study because it isn’t the most traditional route. Some people suggest it’s not a real university or it’s easier than a ‘regular’ university. However, the reality is that regardless of where I studied, I obtained a first-class degree, received a Gray’s Inn scholarship and have now secured a pupillage. In fact, OU students appeal to many Chambers, as they have experience of being able to juggle work, daily life and studying. This in turn shows commitment and a strong work ethic.

“Rightly, the legal profession is striving to diversify by implementing things such as the removal of candidate’s details, such as their gender and university from applications etc. Therefore, if there were a stigma surrounding your university, it is removed anyway. I am so grateful to have studied with the OU. I gained confidence and now have a real sense of self accomplishment and pride.”

Liam Chin – pupillage

Liam Chin is a former chef. He began his studies with the OU in 2018 and was later awarded the Wilfred Watson Scholarship at Gray’s Inn. He is due to begin his pupillage at Crucible in London later this year.

He said: “I am delighted to have secured a pupillage. The OU hands a lifeline to students who have the capacity to complete a degree, but decided against the traditional route when, to all intents and purposes, they were still children. There is no doubt that the OU has changed my life. I am now able to pursue my dream career. The OU has unlocked so many doors and I now just want to be the best I can be. Every OU student wonders if their degree will be viewed in the same light as one from a traditional university. This is proof that as long as you perform well and achieve good results, it is. I would recommend the OU to absolutely everyone. Work hard and anything is possible.”

As part of his ambition to promote access to the Bar, and access to justice, Liam welcomed 20 OU students and tutors for a tour of Gray’s Inn and lunch on 26 July. The students learnt about Gray’s Inn, careers as a Barrister, and the prestigious scholarships that are on offer. Liam hopes that this highlighted the possibilities that are available to OU students, so that many will follow in his footsteps to create a truly diverse Bar.

Kathryn Der Gregorian – Neuberger Prize

Kathryn has won the Lincoln’s Inn Neuberger Prize following a nomination by the OU Law School. She is now one of eight students from non-Russell Group universities who will gain experience and network with barristers during their third and final year of study towards a Law degree. As well as free membership of Lincoln’s Inn, she will receive: a £250 cash reward; attendance at the Inn’s three-day summer school; a mentor for the final year of undergraduate study; and the opportunity to complete a mini pupillage.

Kathryn – who follows in the footsteps of one of last year’s winners Elizabeth Hill, also from the OU – said: “I was very honoured to be nominated for the prize, and I was elated when I found out that I had won! Thank you to everyone in the Law School for the nomination and your continued support.”

Thomas Barry and Kurt Tavares – Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship

Thomas and Kurt have received Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarships, which will see them working closely with lawyers and other professionals with the aim of being offered opportunities including training contracts with commercial law firms including Freshfields.

Thomas said: “It is amazing to have been awarded a Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship. I am still in shock! The testing regime was gruelling. However, the future opportunity to work with and learn from the best lawyers in the world is absolutely priceless. It was an honour to represent the OU Law and Business School. I am eternally grateful for the guidance and continual support, especially in the more difficult stages of the scholarship. I am not taking anything for granted and I understand that the hard work starts now. “

To find out more about the OU Law School, visit

Thomas Barry, recipient of the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship at Freshfields

Related Articles