Talent collaboration programme for BAME students launched by UWE Bristol and major law firms

January 24, 2024

UWE Bristol has collaborated with four of Bristol’s largest law firms to launch a legal services work experience and mentoring programme for the university’s final year undergraduate Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) students from low income backgrounds.

Called UWE Futures, the scheme brings together Osborne Clarke, Burges Salmon and Clarke Willmott to provide 16 placements across 10 business teams such as HR, change management, marketing and risk, while Simmons & Simmons will support the programme by offering employability skills development to all participants.

The pilot programme has been designed to directly help students who typically find it challenging to enter the legal and professional services market and to increase representation in the Bristol legal sector.

Students will participate in a paid one-week internship, receive mentoring support for one year and have the opportunity to either secure an extended internship with participating firms or be offered a guaranteed interview for suitable roles.

By providing CV-building experiences and ongoing support through mentoring, the programme will support the recruitment efforts of Bristol law firms and create a new talent pipeline.

UWE Bristol’s College of Business and Law deputy head Sarah Grabham said: “UWE Bristol is proud of its diverse student population, but many of our students face additional challenges and hardship during their studies and after graduation.

“The university is committed to supporting every one of our students through their academic journey to achieve their ambitions and realise their career aspirations,”

She described UWE Futures as a great opportunity for College of Business and Law students to put their academic studies into practice and gain invaluable work experience in leading Bristol law firms.

“We look forward to working with UWE Futures firms to make a success of this collaboration and to offer as many eligible students as possible the opportunity to be part of the programme,” she added.

Osborne Clarke partner and chief operating officer Tim Simmonds, who is also an independent member of the UWE’s board of governors, said a key part of the firm’s long-term Race Action Plan set out last March was prioritising the recruitment of ethnic minority talent.

“Our existing programmes are predominantly targeted towards solicitors and this opportunity will help us to increase representation across our business services teams and in our regional Bristol office,” he said.

“We’re committed to supporting the local community by increasing opportunities within the Bristol legal market.

“Through this regional collaboration, we want to make a real difference to students who are capable and enthusiastic about building careers in professional services.”

The UWE Futures programme is part of Osborne Clarke’s wider engagement programme to progress its Race Action Plan, by growing its recruitment talent pool to increase ethnic minority representation. Other initiatives include the #10,000 Black Interns Programme, the OC REACH Talent Programme and Osborne Clarke Scholars.

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