CMS Law Bursary

The Scheme

At CMS, we believe that when you choose to pursue a career in law, your background doesn’t matter. We make a career in law more accessible to aspiring lawyers by awarding up to five bursaries each year (one of which is for applicants in Scotland), paying £2,500 towards each year of your law degree. All finalists will also benefit from mentoring by a qualified lawyer, and will be offered paid work experience with CMS during their first year of University.

Now in its seventh year, the scheme has been a great success – 26 students have won bursaries and over 70 have received mentoring. One of the finalists from our first scheme started a training contract with CMS last year.

CMS has been named in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2017/2018, and the Bursary Scheme offers you a chance to develop a relationship with us and start your journey into the legal profession. 

Success stories

Congratulations to our 2017 Bursary Winners Sekela, Izzy and Heather, all going to Oxford University, and Chelsea, going to Exeter University – we are very proud of them and our 2017 finalists. 

Sekela, Bursary Scheme 2017 Winner

The Bursary scheme has given me a fantastic boost in confidence and knowledge by introducing me to amazing new people. My mentor has been very helpful in aiding me in the overall process of applying to university and connecting me to people in the office who have helped me with LNAT preparation, interview preparation and book recommendations. It has also been great to connect to other Bursary winners who have recently been through the university application process. Everyone who has reached out has given me amazing practical advice that has helped me to make a competitive and confident application.

Ashley, Bursary Scheme 2016 Winner

I have never been so reassured that a career in law was exactly what I wanted to pursue in life until I participated in the CMS Bursary Scheme. After applying through the essay competition, the experience of the interview day gives you an incredible insight into what a global modern law firm is like, and everyone who works with you makes you feel so happy and welcome from start to finish. The interview itself, as nerve-racking as it sounds, was definitely one of my favourite parts, as being able to speak personally to lawyers who have been in your position once before was really motivating.

The Scheme also assigns you to a mentor from the firm who spends the time assisting you in creating your personal statement for university applications, which I believe, as well as the experience itself, helped me get 5 unconditional offers. I was also very lucky in being able to get work experience with CMS during my first semester of university, where I found out what a working day is like at the firm, that I thoroughly enjoyed.

In my own opinion, it is an enriching experience and I am so glad that I spent the time writing the essay in the beginning, as I have been given so much determination and excitement for my future career. I definitely recommend to anyone interested to apply, as it is an offer you will not find anywhere else!.

Megan, Bursary Scheme 2015 finalist

I would absolutely encourage anyone thinking of applying to the scheme to go for it! The entire experience, start to finish, was a huge motivator, a lot of fun, and educational. The essay competition allowed me to undertake research in areas I'd never even considered before. It taught me time management and research skills in an enthralling way, and I was ecstatic with the final product, as well as to have made it to the final twelve- I honestly never believed I could!

The actual interview day in London was also unforgettable. It gave me the chance to visit London, which, coming from the East Midlands, is pretty rare, and meet the other applicants who were from all over the country.

I was petrified for my interview- looking back, I have no idea why! The two CMS lawyers I met with were so good at putting me at ease and making me comfortable. The interview was more like a conversation, where we discussed career goals, my A-level studies, and my knowledge of law.

I never really believed that I would get further than the essay portion of the scheme, and got increasingly prouder and more confident with every portion I made it through. Making it to the final 12 is one of my proudest achievements, and something that has really helped me grow as a person, and become more confident to apply to university and other extracurricular.

I'm now in the final portion of Year 13, preparing to sit my final nine A-level exams. I applied to university in November 2016 (with the CMS bursary a proud feature on my personal statement) and received offers from all five institutions I applied for – including one unconditional.

Most of all, though, I encourage everyone considering applying to the scheme to do it because you just might surprise yourself. I did.

Find out how two of our other finalists, Sophia and Hannah, benefited from the scheme by watching their stories here. 

Sarah Hyde, Of Counsel at CMS, leader of the CMS Bursary Scheme

The idea for the Bursary Scheme came to me in a flash in the shower one morning in 2011. Higher student loans had just been introduced and there had been a lot in the news about how the profession was getting socially narrower, rather than broader. CMS had just published its own research on the backgrounds of our people, which showed the same trends that were being seen across the profession as a whole. It made me think about what we as a law firm could do to break down some of the barriers to access the profession in a way that would fit with our day to day work and the skills that we have as lawyers.

I emailed our then Senior Partner, Dick Tyler, to ask him why we didn’t have a bursary scheme to help students from less advantaged social economic backgrounds. Dick’s answer was to ask me to set one up and the Scheme has grown from there.

Although the starting point for the Scheme was thinking about financial support, it became clear very quickly that we as lawyers would be well-equipped to provide mentoring support for students applying for university places and sitting the National Law Admissions Test (LNAT) – we know how lawyers think and what makes a good lawyer. We designed our interview day to give students a taste of the sort of things they might come across during interviews once they start applying for formal work placement schemes at law firms. We also added a couple of days paid work experience to give students the chance to become familiar with a big law firm and get our name on their CV.

As someone who isn’t from London – I grew up in the Midlands – it was really important to me that our Scheme should be open nationally, rather than focusing on schools within easy reach of our offices. I have been delighted with the geographical breadth of the applications we get – though I am still waiting for our first application from Wales!

The scheme is run by volunteers – none of us does this as our full time job – and I have been overwhelmed by the number of volunteers that we have. Knowing that we are helping students who might not otherwise get the chance to access the profession has really hit a chord with our people – many of whom do not come from the stereotypical City lawyer background either.

I am really proud of the Scheme and what we have achieved over the last five years. We love to share in the successes of our students – I shed a tear when my mentee from the first year of the scheme sent me her graduation photo. I would encourage you to think about applying if you meet the criteria – this is a great opportunity that can change your life.

Criteria to apply

The bursaries are open to any candidate who attends a state school; and either:

  • is themselves eligible for free school meals (or would be eligible for free school meals if they attended a school sixth form rather than a college);


  • attends a school where 25% or more of students are currently eligible for free school meals;
  • attends a school where the average percentage of students eligible for free school meals over the last 6 years has been 25% or more; 
  • if now attending a sixth form college, attended a school in Years 7 to 11 where the average percentage of students eligible for free school meals over the last 6 years was 25% or more;


  • will be in the first generation in their family to go to university; 
  • is expected to achieve (or has already achieved) ABB or equivalent at A Level; 
  • will be applying for and accepts an offer to read Law on a university undergraduate degree course which requires a minimum of ABB or equivalent at A Level, or at a Russell Group university.

Recruitment process

Our 2018 competition has now closed, with our next competition opening in June 2019.

Please email us at [email protected] if you have any questions.