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Freshfields welcomes 14 new scholars to its eleventh Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (‘Freshfields’) has welcomed 14 new scholars to join its Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, now in its eleventh year, bringing the total number of awarded scholarships to 124.  

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.  

Scholars receive a bespoke 15-month development programme which includes skills workshops, commercial awareness, interview coaching, networking, mentoring, support with job applications and careers advice. They will also receive:

  • Work shadowing at Freshfields with lawyers and other work insight experiences;  
  • A guaranteed interview for a training contract at the firm;
  • A financial contribution towards course and associated study-related costs.  

As in previous years, a small number of highly commended applicants who did not secure a plac e on the Scheme are also recognised for their efforts and provided with mentorship support by the Bank of England. All candidates can elect for a Freshfields mentor to build on their assessment centre experience and feedback. 

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, now in its eleventh year. Over the last decade, the Scheme has been instrumental in identifying exceptional talent and harnessing the potential of those seeking a career in law and other professional services roles. With 22 April marking the 30th anniversary of Stephen’s murder, our continued efforts to support and encourage applicants is essential for creating meaningful change.” 

Freshfields trainee and 2019 Scholar Elias Wachenje, said: “I am delighted for the new scholars and look forward to seeing how they progress on the scheme. The scholarship was a very significant opportunity for me and instrumental in leading me to my career at Freshfields. I am encouraged to see another group of talented scholars start their journey.”  

To date, Freshfields has worked with over 80 participating universities across the country, and more than 720 talented law and non-law undergraduates have competed for a place on the scholarship. This year, 34 universities across the UK nominated eligible undergraduates for the Scheme, with 11 of them nominating both Law and non-Law students. 

The scheme’s assessment centres involved more than 220 colleagues, with many actively contributing to the scheme’s development and mentorship programme – including former scholars. Volunteers are also provided by global professional services firm Aon, The Bank of England and other organisations. 

As of May 2023, the majority of scholars of the last decade had accepted roles at large commercial law firms, investment banks and other City firms, barristers’ chambers, at leading professional services firms or in government service, or on Masters or PhD programmes. Further recruitment outcomes are awaited: prior to the firm’s current summer recruitment season, 21 scholars had accepted training contracts at Freshfields.  

This year, Freshfields also published its second Diversity and Inclusion Annual Review 2023.  The firm has continued to make strong progress this year against its global D&I targets for 2021 - 2026 and is on track to meet the majority of its targets, some ahead of schedule. 
Initiatives and strategic commitments aimed at improving diverse representation at Freshfields include the ‘Future Leaders’ talent programme, which provides bespoke training supporting Black and ethnically diverse colleagues’ progression.  
The firm also runs the award-winning 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.