In June 2009, Bird & Bird launched its Bursary to address the financial hurdle that often deters bright young people from socially deprived areas of the country from attending university. The effect of this hurdle is perceived by the Firm to be a contributing factor in the under representation of people from disadvantaged backgrounds within the legal profession.
Bird & Bird ("the Firm") are establishing a network of schools and six form colleges sited in socially deprived areas of the country who wish to participate in the Firm's project. Being part of the network will enable participating schools and colleges to be supported by the Firm in providing careers advice to their students. It will also enable the Heads and Principals to propose suitable candidates for the Bursary.
The Bursary, which is fully funded by the Firm, will support up to four students in each academic year.
- The Bursary will support each student through the term of their law, or law-related, degree at University (typically a three year course);
- The Bursary of £2,500 per annum will be paid in instalments at the start of each University term to assist in covering living expenses or other expenses incurred at University while the student continues to read for his or her degree;
- The Award includes a mentoring programme to offer these students support and career guidance, including the appointment of a designated trainee to act as mentor and access to other members of the Firm including partners;
- Participation in the Firm’s Summer Placement Scheme at the end of the second year of attendance at University.
Qualification for the Bursary is means tested and is subject to a merit based selection process. The successful candidates for the Bursary will be selected by the Bursary Board which includes the Patron.
The Firm has appointed its first Patron for the Bursary, Rehana Azib, a barrister and winner of the Young Achiever of the Year 2009 Award at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards. Led by Partner Simon Shooter, the initiative is in its first year. The selection process is currently underway and the first recipients of the Bursary will be announced later this summer.