Hall Brown backs university social mobility initiative

James Brown, left, and Sam Hall

Family law firm Hall Brown has become the first legal practice to support a social mobility initiative enabling students from underprivileged backgrounds across Greater Manchester to receive a university education.

The arrangement will mean three undergraduates at the University of Manchester receive £6,000 bursaries from Hall Brown Family Law over the course of their law degrees.

Managing partner James Brown added that the backing followed Hall Brown’s decision to throw its weight behind the Manchester Access Programme, which had been established by the university in an effort to increase the number of students from financially deprived families able to continue their education.

He added that the move underlined Hall Brown’s commitment to developing legal talent by helping remove some of the financial barriers which thwart the progress of promising students.

“We opened our doors two years ago with the firm intention of recruiting lawyers who had impeccable academic records, a commitment to law and a personality capable of building a solid rapport with clients and colleagues alike,” said Mr Brown.

“We believe that those qualities exist irrespective of social background, yet we’re well aware that some students who might set their sights on a legal career are prevented from fulfilling their academic potential and their professional ambitions because their parents might be unable to support the costs now associated with higher education.

“The Manchester Access Programme is an incredibly laudable scheme and we think that it represents a very important step in trying to ensure that the best, and not necessarily just the wealthiest, candidates become the lawyers of the future and – potentially – part of the Hall Brown team.”

The University of Manchester, which is one of the UK’s highest-ranked further education institutions, launched the Manchester Access Programme in 2006 to tackle some of the financial challenges facing students in the surrounding areas.

Research has shown that only 13.7% of students from schools across Greater Manchester eventually take up places on degree courses – just over one-third of the national average (35%).

The university works with local schools to identify talented pupils who are unlikely to attend university for reasons beyond their control.

Over the course of the 18 months before they are due to submit their university application, they are provided with advice to help prepare them for life on campus.

If they achieve the required grades, they are guaranteed a place at the University of Manchester and become eligible to receive an Undergraduate Access Scholarship.

Under the arrangement with Hall Brown, three students wishing to study law will each receive £2,000 a year for three years towards the cost of their education with the University Access Programme contributing an extra £1,000 per year for each of the students selected.

The venture is specifically aimed at supporting students from households with a combined income of less than £25,000.

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, the president and vice chancellor of the University of Manchester, welcomed Hall Brown’s support.

She added: “We believe that the brightest and best students should have access to a world-class education, regardless of their financial situation or social background.”

Hall Brown’s contribution to the venture is the latest example of its commitment to raising legal standards and provision, both in the North West and nationwide.

Next month the firm will begin offering its first training contracts having been granted approval to do so by the Law Society.

Hall Brown is also spearheading attempts to save a pioneering court system designed to help prevent the children of parents addicted to drugs or alcohol from being taken into care

Both Mr Brown and his co-founder, senior partner Sam Hall, have held a series of meetings with peers and MPs at Parliament to raise funds in order to safeguard the future of the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) National Unit