The University of Bristol supports eligible first year law students to apply for the Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme. Launched in 2013, the scheme seeks to address the disproportionate under-representation of black and black mixed-race men from less socially mobile backgrounds in large commercial law firms, and in recent years other ‘City’ careers too. Each year students will work closely with lawyers and other professionals within Freshfields, and at other City organisations.
This year three University of Bristol law students were amongst only 13 successful applicants – a fantastic achievement. They follow in the footsteps of two previous University of Bristol law students who also won scholarships and whose feedback on the scheme, and the support offered, was exceptional. We caught up with Jeante Nero who was one of the three Bristol law students to join the scheme in 2021, as he tells us his thoughts on the scheme and why you should apply.
Why did you decide to apply for the Freshfields Stephen Lawrence Scholarship?
“I was contacted by the Law School’s Career adviser Jo Cooksley who nominated me for the opportunity. Upon attending the online welcome event I emailed a previous 2020 scholar, Oli, and asked a few additional questions about it. I applied because I thought it was a fantastic opportunity, and rightly so, to gain insight into the commercial world. I am so much more aware than I ever would’ve been with how things work.”
When you were selected for the scholarship, how did this make you feel?
“I honestly didn’t think I’d be offered a scholarship after the assessment days. I felt like there were so many great applicants so when I found out I’d been awarded one I was quite shocked but my excitement for the programme overcame most of the imposter syndrome.”
What is offered on the scholarship and what do you feel you have gained from the opportunity?
“You get invaluable insight into the commercial world, and incredible mentorship from people at the top of their field. There are a number of City and legal careers we explore on the programme: the focus is a primarily commercial one, but that’s not to say you cannot receive guidance on other areas. Mentors are great at helping you to explore fields you’re interested in. This process has helped me discover that my true passion resides in human rights and civil law, possibly as a barrister. The skills sessions included in the development programme will help me succeed in the competitive area that I plan to move in to. Sessions so far have included ‘ESG’ (environmental, social, governance), tech and innovation, writing skills, personal and professional branding, and building resilience. The unique thing about the programme is the networks it seeks to build, including among scholars and candidates. I don’t know of another programme that brings together black men with the potential to succeed.”
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying?
“Just do it (not to sound cliché). You have nothing to lose by applying and the assessment centre is great practice for the future. You don’t have to be set on entering the commercial world. This programme can help with a wide range of careers. Don’t be scared to apply or doubt your capabilities. The criteria can seem daunting, but Freshfields considers potential in a number of ways, and far too often we underestimate our own capabilities. There’s even a great offering for those who don’t win a scholarship.”
How can I find out more about the scheme and how to apply?
You can find out more about this fantastic scheme via this link. If you are studying law at the University of Bristol and think that you might be eligible for the scheme, you can contact Jo Cooksley (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find out more.