Freshfields takes on five black trainees for 2019 intake through Stephen Lawrence scholarship


Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has awarded five training contracts this year to black students as part of its partnership with the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust.

The Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship, which dates back to 2013, aims to identify male law students from low-income African, Afro-Caribbean or mixed-race backgrounds who would benefit from financial support and career mentoring.

Since 2013 the magic circle firm has awarded 43 scholarships and offered training contracts to 10 students, with eight accepting.

Five of these offers were taken up during this summer’s recruitment season, for training contracts starting in 2019.

The two declines since 2013 were both in 2015, with one opting for a career at the Bar, while the other was hired by another top-tier City law firm.

Freshfields sponsor for social mobility and London real estate partner Annette Byron (pictured) said: “The numbers of black men coming to the profession are small, and those who do often go to smaller firms. The aim of the scheme is to change the profile in large commercial law firms where black numbers are very small, and there are very few role models to encourage later generations to begin a career in the City.

“It is not the sole driver to get these extremely talented students into Freshfields – the aim is to get them into a niche that suits them somewhere in the City.”

Scholarships include funding, a 15-month development programme with mentoring and work shadowing, and a guaranteed training contract interview.

The funding amounts to a £3,500 annual contribution towards living expenses for students who are studying a qualifying law degree course at a UK university and are in the first year of a three-year course.

The 15-month programme runs from the July after first-year exams to the September before the students go back for their third year.

The scholars must also fulfill at least one of several criteria, such as: having been eligible for free school meals; having attended a school where free school meal eligibility is above average; being in the first generation in the candidate’s family to attend university; or being a recipient of a maintenance grant.

Freshfields also provides pro bono legal advice to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, which was established in 1998 by the parents of Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in a racist attack in 1993 in south London.