CMS Law Bursary

The Scheme

We believe that a career in law should be open to people from all walks of life, if that is what they want to do and if their potential measures up. We make a career in law more accessible to aspiring lawyers by awarding up to four bursaries each year, paying £2,500 towards each year of your law degree.

Now in its sixth year, the scheme has been a great success – 21 students have won bursaries and over 60 have received mentoring.  One of our first students starts her training contract with CMS this year.

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

Success stories

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 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.

Jai Patel, CMS Associate, long term volunteer of the Scheme

As a mentor, my main role is to provide guidance to my mentee student over the course of their university application. Having been one of the first people in my family to attend university I remember it being a daunting process. I wanted to share what I had learnt from the experience with students who are in a similar position, especially where they may have limited or no access to such support from other areas.

Mentoring takes place on a one-to-one basis over email and I have found it easy to fit it in my work schedule. With my mentee we have covered a number of topics, including how to get the most out of university open days, completing the UCAS form and preparing for the LNAT. One of the best aspects about being a mentor is seeing my mentee secure their place at their chosen university and how happy they are in having done so!

I continue to keep in touch with mentees after they have started university and chat to them about studying for exams and applying for work experience and training contracts. The mentoring students are both motivated and hard-working and it is refreshing to listen to and discuss with them about their university and career aspirations.

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);

 or:

  • 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 5 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 5 years was 25% or more;

and

  • 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

To be considered for a bursary, you will need to enter our essay-writing competition which closes in June (Scotland) or July (rest of UK). If you do well, we will interview you at our London or Glasgow offices in September 2017, giving you the chance to meet trainee solicitors and take part in fun team building exercises. Our 2017 competition is now open. You can apply by clicking here. If you live in Scotland, please email bursary@cms-cmno.com with your name and contact details to register.

Travel and (where appropriate) overnight accommodation for the candidate and an accompanying adult will be arranged and paid for by us. All students invited to interview are offered mentoring support from one of our lawyers to help with their UCAS applications and the LNAT. We also offer some work experience to the students we mentor.

Click here to see the full rules for 2017

Please email us at bursary@cms-cmno.com if you have any questions.