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Lewis Silkin Social Mobility Week: meet our scholarship winners

09 February 2024

Social mobility is one of our two focus areas for Responsible Business, alongside sustainability, and the annual Lewis Silkin Social Mobility Week is an opportunity to learn more about this issue and how we’re contributing to positive change.

One of the ways we are helping improve social mobility - in the legal industry and beyond - is through the Ellen & Nikki scholarship scheme, which helps budding law students overcome some of the financial barriers to studying at university. It was set up by the firm in 2021 in memory of two much loved colleagues, Ellen Temperton and Nikki Mallett.

Throughout their careers, both Ellen and Nikki were committed to helping others by sharing their knowledge and experience and by offering encouragement to junior colleagues to help them progress their legal careers.

The scholarship scheme – which originally provided students with a one-off payment of £500 or £1,000 - was expanded in 2023 and now offers a £3,000 annual scholarship for three years, in addition to mentoring and work experience. We are delighted that we are now able to support four budding law students every year and help them overcome some of the financial barriers to studying at university. Ellen and Nikki’s families remain involved in administering the scheme.

Esther and Ismail are two of the students who received scholarships in 2023.

Meet Esther...

I was delighted to be awarded a scholarship by Lewis Silkin. Whilst I was initially apprehensive when first starting my degree and moving to a new city, I have settled in quickly and this has affirmed my aspirations of being a future lawyer. I am looking forward to developing academically and I am excited about my future opportunities, which I am confident the scholarship scheme will help me to achieve.

Esther is studying law at the University of Leicester.

Meet Ismall...

I am thoroughly excited to have been selected as one of Lewis Silkin’s scholarship winners and I am looking forward to developing my connections within the firm through the mentoring scheme and work experience placements.  I am committed to a career in law and I am excited for my studies and my future role as a trainee solicitor.

Ismail is studying law at the University of Law in Manchester. Ismail is also a previous winner of the Lewis Silkin student essay competition.

Karish Andrews, Chair of the firm’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Board, said:

Congratulations to Esther and Ismail! We are proud to help support the bright new lawyers of tomorrow and honour Ellen and Nikki’s legacies in the process. This scholarship scheme is one of the ways the firm is contributing to improving social mobility in the legal sector and we are excited to support Esther and Ismail in the early stages of their legal careers and see what they do next.

Our other Social Mobility activities include a nine-month Mentoring Scheme for students aged 16-18 whose schools are in areas of low social mobility and virtual careers events in those areas, work experience placements for students from less privileged backgrounds, and a firmwide charity partnership with The Sutton Trust which aims to improve social mobility and address educational disadvantage.

We also use the Rare Contextual Recruitment System when recruiting for graduate roles. This compares the economic and social circumstances of applicants to produce contextual data on every candidate, allowing us to spot exciting talent we might otherwise have missed, and ensure we build an even richer and more diverse team.

More information on Lewis Silkin Social Mobility Week

We organise an annual Social Mobility Week. This year, we ran an event as part of our “Culture Club” series. This is an internal event series where, using a film or TV show as an entry into a topic, people from around the firm gather together to discuss diversity issues. Over 100 people joined a discussion around the documentary “How to crack the class ceiling”. Later this month, we’ll be running a similar event looking at the intersection of social mobility with LGBTQ+ issues, based around the film “Pride”.

During Social Mobility Week we highlight the many things we are doing to improve social mobility inside and outside of the firm. We run a regular survey to better understand the barriers that colleagues from different social backgrounds face and, in response to previous feedback, have this year launched a mentoring programme intended to support colleagues from less advantaged backgrounds.

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