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Freshfields welcomes 16 new scholars to its tenth Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (‘Freshfields’) has welcomed 16 new scholars to join its Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, now in its tenth year, bringing the total number of awarded scholarships to 111.

Established by Freshfields in 2013 with support from Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendon OBE, the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme seeks to address the disproportionate under-representation in large commercial law firms and other City institutions of Black men from less socially mobile backgrounds.

Annette Byron, Freshfields Partner for Social Mobility and a founder of the scheme, said: “I am delighted to welcome our new cohort to join the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme. I never fail to be inspired by the potential and commitment of candidates and our scholars. In this tenth year of the scheme, it still seems critical to ensure greater access to opportunity, for those without financial privilege to be known for their talents.”

Freshfields associate and 2016 Stephen Lawrence scholar, Panashe Jinga, said: “I am really encouraged to see the next generation of talented and motivated scholars coming through. It's an excellent opportunity to give back through a scheme that gave so much to me.”

To date, Freshfields has worked with over 70 participating universities across the country, and more than 640 talented law and non-law undergraduates have competed for a place on the scholarship. This year, 41 universities across the UK nominated eligible law undergraduates for the scheme with 10 of them also permitted to nominate eligible non-Law students. The scheme’s assessment centres involved 217 colleagues, with many actively contributing to the scheme’s development and mentorship programme – including former scholars. Volunteers are also provided by Aon and The Bank of England, among other organisations.

Including this year’s cohort, scholarships awarded now total 111 individuals, and as another recruitment season opens the majority of 2013-2020 scholars had accepted roles at large commercial law firms, investment banks and other City firms, barristers’ chambers, in the Civil or government service, or on Masters programmes. This includes 19 who have accepted training contracts at Freshfields.

Freshfields also recently launched its inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Annual Review 2022, highlighting the firm’s progress on its five-year global commitments and targets for gender, race and ethnicity, and LGBTQ+ representation. Progress made includes a +67% increase in the number of Black associates this year, meaning the firm is on track to reach its target by 2026.

Those initiatives and strategic commitments aimed at improving diverse representation at Freshfields includes the ‘Future Leaders’ talent programme, which provides bespoke training supporting Black and ethnically diverse colleagues’ progression. Freshfields also recently announced its support for the launch of the Black Equity Organisation (BEO), a national and independent civil rights organisation founded to advance justice and equity for Black people in Britain.

Further initiatives include Freshfields’ Aspiring Professionals Programme (APP), a social mobility outreach programme created in partnership with the Social Mobility Foundation to support talented young people from social mobility ‘cold spot’ areas.