updated on 27 January 2021
A scholarship programme for Black law graduates which aims to provide work experience required to secure solicitor roles, funding for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) and a practical way to “move forward with diversity in the profession” has been launched by Accutrainee.
In March this year, scholars from a Black heritage background will start a six-month placement at City law firm CMS and the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE), which the Competition and Markets Authority set up in 2016 to offer ‘open banking’.
According to CEO and founder of trainee specialist Accutrainee Susan Cooper, the scholarship has been promoted on social media, through law schools and the Black Solicitors Network. Graduates currently being assessed for the programme have either completed a law degree or a conversion course, with some also having completed the Legal Practice Course (LPC). Those who have already completed the LPC would not need to do the SQE.
Talking about the selection process, Cooper explained that “the challenges they [candidates] come up against and how they overcame them” would be considered.
“We’re looking for individuals who ooze potential, are keen and eager to learn and have the core competencies that trainees need to have,” she added.
The number of sponsors for the programme will determine the number of scholars and placements on offer. Cooper is currently in talks with other law firms and companies regarding sponsorship.
The scholarship programme will enable candidates to learn a “broad range of skills relevant to the fintech sector”, including financial services, regulation, data, privacy, IT and IP, plus commercial skills.
Michael Cavers, early talent partner at CMS, commented: “As a global organisation with clients and employees from all walks of life, diversity and inclusion is a central part of our culture.
“We strive to provide a successful, dynamic, progressive and supportive environment where all our people can thrive.
“We are dedicated to expanding opportunities for the BAME lawyers of the future and are pleased to sponsor Accutrainee’s scholarship programme.”
Meanwhile, general counsel for the OBIE Selene Brett said: “As champions of collaboration and innovation, OBIE is pleased to be at the forefront of an initiative that takes a fresh look at the traditional legal training and qualification route.
“We want to be part of the development of the talent our sector needs to respond proactively and imaginatively with legal solutions to the evolving regulatory tech space.”