Top Edinburgh legal firm to support deprived pupils

A TOP legal firm has set up a scholarship in memory of a lawyer's lifelong passion for helping the careers of others.

Wednesday, 25th July 2018, 7:00 am
Richard Masters, chairman of Scotland and Northern Ireland for Pinsent Mason, and Christine McLintock, chair of LawScot Foundation, with students Darren and Demi . Picture: Ian Georgeson

Partnering with the Lawscot Foundation, Pinsent Masons has created the Kirk Murdoch Memorial Fund to encourage students from less advantaged backgrounds to enter the legal profession.

It provides financial support, professional mentoring, a work placement and the opportunity to take up a traineeship at Pinsent Masons, where Murdoch was chairman for Scotland and Northern Ireland until his death in March 2017. The scholarship could open many doors for aspiring lawyers including Demi Scorfield, from Leith – who is a second-year law student at Edinburgh University.

She said: “The mentoring support I have been given through the Lawscot Foundation has been a massive boost to my self-confidence, while the bursary was a great help with buying law books and with rent, and without this help it would be extremely difficult.

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“It is an amazing opportunity and will be a big motivational factor to all of us to work hard and to take advantage of this opportunity to secure a summer internship, and to build on the network and contacts we have already established.”

Described as “one of Scotland’s most distinguished lawyers”, Ayrshire-born Murdoch spent more than 40 years in senior roles with McGrigor Donald and, latterly, Pinsent Masons after a 2012 merger. He was widely respected and admired for his support and encouragement of those around him to reach their full potential.

Richard Masters, who succeeded Murdoch as Pinsent Masons chair of Scotland and Northern Ireland, said staff across the firm had overwhelmingly agreed a form of educational support would be the most fitting tribute to his memory.

He said: “Kirk constantly challenged people to make the most of their potential and one of his many strengths was to encourage people to be the best they could be and to be brave in taking decisions.”

The legal firm will fund a bursary and scholarship in line with the Lawscot Foundation, a charity which helps academically talented students from underprivileged circumstances to access legal careers.

From August this year, Pinsent Masons will pay for one extra student to be supported by the foundation annually. Foundation students reaching the end of their second year of studying a law degree will now be eligible to apply for the Kirk Murdoch Scholarship, which offers a paid summer placement within the legal firm and the additional support of continual mentoring.

After graduating, the scholarship student can then apply for a traineeship, potentially leading to a career within the firm.

Chair of the Lawscot Foundation, Christine McLintock, said: “The students in our first intake are a remarkable group of people who have already faced incredible challenges in their young lives. This substantial contribution by Pinsent Masons will allow us to support an additional student each year and, as a former colleague of Kirk’s, I can think of no more fitting tribute to his character and willingness to help others, and I know he would approve.”