Bird & Bird & Your Bursary: supporting future lawyers
In 2009, Bird & Bird launched the Bird & Bird Bursary Programme. It seeks to address the financial hurdle that often deters bright 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; the objective of this scheme is to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the legal profession. The firm provides a grant on the following basis:
- the Award will be granted at the start of University, typically for a period of up to three years - paid in instalments at the start of each University term for living expenses or other expenses incurred at University.
- The Award will be granted on the basis the Candidate continues to follow a law or law-related degree course; if the Candidate ceases to follow that degree course, the Award will cease.
In return for the Award, the successful candidates agree to:
- study and complete a law or law-related degree at a recognised UK university; and
- participate in the firm’s mentoring scheme and attend work experience at the end of the second year of attendance at University.
A mentoring system with our current trainees is established to give support and career guidance to the successful candidates during their studies.
We now have eleven students in total in the scheme and will shortly be reviewing applications for 2016.
Please view the following video from one of our current Bursary students, Bethany Flynn, who is in her final year at Nottingham University studying Law.
How to apply
Please review our Bursary Rules to confirm that you meet our criteria to apply for a place on the Bursary Programme.
Please send your CV together with the completed application form to the Corporate Responsibility team at Bird & Bird by 31 May 2016. You must be in your final year at school or college and have an offer to study law at University.
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We are a member of PRIME, the work experience commitment from the legal profession.
PRIME was established through the collective view that an industry standard was required to ensure fair access to quality work experience for school-age students across the UK.
By signing up to PRIME, we are committed to provide work experience placements for students from less advantaged backgrounds to find out how the legal profession works - not just the role of lawyers, but information and insights into other functions like Finance, IT, Human Resources, Marketing and Business Development - showing just how many different career paths are available. The initiative will be evaluated on an annual basis to ensure all the firms signed up are achieving what the set out to.
More details can be found on the PRIME website.
The following case study shows how we are meeting the PRIME commitment in partnership with one of our clients, Yahoo!:
Inspired by our long-term commitment to promoting social mobility through greater diversity in the legal profession, the Pioneer Programme at international law firm Bird & Bird meets the PRIME commitment and is specifically aimed at building relationships with students from underprivileged backgrounds. It is designed to give students from age 14 onwards a greater awareness and understanding of careers available within the legal profession and the wider business world, while helping them to develop key employability skills.
How better to do this than to show students first-hand how law firms interact with clients, particularly when one of those clients is multinational online giant Yahoo!? Having worked with Bird & Bird on another of the firm’s social mobility initiatives, the in-house legal team at Yahoo! are perfect partners for Pioneer, enhancing what a law firm are able to offer by giving our students access to an even greater variety of careers, knowledge and contacts within a dynamic internet corporation.
The programme will be delivered through three half-day workshops in Years 10 and 11 and one week’s work experience in Year 12. During their work experience Yahoo! will host the students for an afternoon, introducing them to the legal team and other business units, including editorial and sales. The students will run a case study on a deal involving different business units and legal issues. They will then be split into teams to complete a challenge with a mentor from the Yahoo! legal team. Yahoo! will continue to be involved beyond this through the Pioneer alumni programme which will provide annual events and ongoing mentoring enabling students to keep in touch with the firm and their peers.
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Launched in September 2012, our Pioneer Programme is a social mobility and talent development programme which establishes long-term relationships with students from underrepresented backgrounds from the age of 14 onwards. Pioneer actively addresses and tackles the barriers which deter students from disadvantaged background from entering the legal profession.
The Pioneer Programme at Bird & Bird aims to:
provide insight, inspiration and information about careers in the legal profession and wider business world, as well as a chance to learn about and develop the key skills that employers are looking for
provide targeted support to children over a 4 year period from Year 10 (age 14/15) to Year 13 (age 17/18) including one weeks’ work experience during Year 12
identify students who would otherwise not have access to such opportunities
properly prepare students for the decisions they will have to make as they decide what career path to embark on, including the relevance of university education
provide a framework for continued support during and after the 4 year period.
We have worked with Central Foundation Girls School since 2012 and introduced Lambeth Academy in 2014 in order to further increase diversity. We currently have 45 students on the programme and 13 students on our Alumni.
Students attend our offices at 15 Fetter Lane three times per academic year in Years 10 and 11 (once per term) and for one week's paid work experience in Year 12. Once work experience has been completed, students will be given a certificate of participation and invited to join the Pioneer Alumni in Year 13. The year 13 students will also receive guidance on the transition between sixth form and further education.
Feedback from our students:
'Bird & Bird was a really enjoyable work experience. Everyone is really friendly and welcoming!'
'This week has given me an insight into different careers available in a law firm'
"I benefited because I learnt vital skills that would apply in any career field such as structuring conversations" (Networking Skills)
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The Law Society’s Diversity & Inclusion Charter
Bird & Bird are founding signatories of the Law Society Diversity & Inclusion Charter. This is the flagship diversity initiative of the legal profession. It is an instantly recognisable public statement of commitment by its signatories and a framework for positive action across all strands of diversity.
Purchasers of legal services are invited to support and promote supplier diversity through adoption of the Protocol on the Procurement of Legal Services.
Initiated by the Society of Asian Lawyers and BT and led by the Law Society, this is a developing initiative through which its signatories will work together to develop, share and adopt best practice.
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We are members of Race for Opportunity, Business Disability Forum, working families, Stonewall and Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion to assist us in advancing our diversity & inclusion strategy.
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