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Smart Start work experience for Year 12 students

Allen & Overy launched the Smart Start Experience in 2009 with the aim of giving young people facing socio-economic barriers access to high quality work experience in the world of business.

Since its launch, the Smart Start Experience has supported over 1,569 young people. As the recipient of many prestigious awards, the Smart Start Experience was the first work experience scheme in the legal sector to receive City & Guilds accreditation. (Note that City & Guilds will not confirm the programme is Assured until its annual renewal process has been completed after the Smart Start Week has taken place).

close up of young woman in boardroom setting

In partnership with Causeway Education

We will be partnering with Causeway Education to deliver the Smart Start Experience in July 2022. Causeway Education is a charity which supports young people through key educational transitions. 

Applications for Smart Start 2022 are open

Applicants need to attend a Smart Choices virtual event. Interested parties can register for a Smart Choice virtual event here.

young woman with glasses reading
Smart Start students around table
Access to education and employment

The Smart Start Experience

By participating in the Smart Start Experience week, young people gain a real insight into the world of work and learn about the wide range of careers available within an international business such as Allen & Overy. Through a timetable of interactive workshops and team challenges, participants develop the skills necessary to succeed in a professional career, from analysis and negotiation to networking and personal brand. Participants also get to practice using the eight essential skills identified by Skills Builder and receive practical support with interview technique, application writing and improving their personal impact. During the week, successful applicants will also understand the importance of building a network of professional contacts with their fellow Smart Start participants.

The Smart Start Experience week will take place w/c 18 July 2022 at Allen & Overy’s London office.

Applications for Smart Start 2022 are open until the last Smart Choices online event on 5 April 2022. Applicants need to attend a Smart Choices virtual event. Please register here. 

New for 2022 - Smart Applications

For the last two years the Smart Start Experience has been delivered online. For 2022, to ensure that students who benefit from an online opportunity do not miss out, Allen & Overy will also be running Smart Applications. Smart Applications allows young people who do not want to travel to London to still access a quality employer programme and gain insights drawn from the Smart Start Experience.

Delivered entirely virtually, Smart Applications provides students the opportunity to gain interview experience, network with employees at Allen & Overy and develop valuable employability skills.

Taking place across 8 live webinars throughout June and July 2022, Smart Applications includes:

  • A&O insight sessions with volunteers from across the firm
  • Support for university and apprenticeship applications
  • The opportunity to have individual feedback on an online mock interview
a graphic which outlines the two application routes for Smart Start 2022

 

How to apply

2 young women seated at a desk with paperwork

Eligibility


Find out what the requirements are to secure your place on the programme.

Find out more
boardroom of students

Application process


All applicants need to attend one Smart Choices virtual event before they can apply for the Smart Start Experience week or Smart Applications.

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participants and volunteers in conference room

Smart Start Experience feedback


Hear what past participants and volunteers have to say about their experience.

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Support beyond the Smart Start Experience

Smarter Futures

Smarter Futures provides the students who complete the Smart Start Experience week with a greater insight into life in a City law firm. Smart Start students involved in Smarter Futures will also receive guidance and support on aspects of higher education and employment. The programme will run for the duration of Year 13.

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Once students have completed the Smart Start Experience week, they are invited to apply for our e-mentoring programme, Smarter Futures. Depending on government restrictions, the mentoring will largely take place on-line with a mix of virtual and in-person masterclasses and where you will have the opportunity to meet your mentor from Allen & Overy (or one of our commercial clients, usually an in-house lawyer).

"Without Smart Start, I don’t think I would have applied to Oxford or for a training contract. I’ve overcome hurdles to access these opportunities and I think it’s vital that organisations continue to ensure people like me can realise their potential. The most difficult element of this is eradicating the hidden prejudice that people can face and also understanding the interplay between gender, race and social background. I would love to work my way up at A&O and help to achieve that.”

Anisa, Future Trainee Solicitor at A&O

close up of young woman in boardroom setting

Bursary

For those students who took part in the Smart Start Experience week going on to study at university and who have participated in Smarter Futures, Allen & Overy offers a bursary programme to a select number of students who meet both our academic and social mobility criteria.

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Successful applicants will be awarded £15,000, paid in instalments of £5,000 over a 3 year degree. Along with the financial support Smart Start Scholars receive as part of the scholarship programme, they are also given access to a dedicated mentor and provided opportunities to attend exclusive events delivered by our Graduate Recruitment Team.

students seated in a boardroom setting

UpReach

Allen & Overy’s partnership with upReach, a social mobility charity, provides Smart Start students attending university with the opportunity to participate in a tailored programme offering careers and employability support.

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Eligible students benefit from support including: a dedicated programme coordinator to help students explore career options, access to work experience opportunities and internships, and a professional mentor from one of upReach’s partner employees.

Smart Start students’ acceptance on the programme is subject to upReach’s eligibility criteria. A successful applicant’s place on UpReach’s programme is fully funded by Allen & Overy for three years. Only students who have completed both the Smart Start Experience week and Smarter Futures will be invited to apply.

“upReach has been hugely important to my professional development journey. Since joining I was given unparalleled support in completing applications for first-year schemes. I don’t know what I would have done without upReach this year, thank you so much!”

Vinay, A&O First and placement on Winter Vacation Scheme A&O (2020)

close up of young female and male smiling

Once students have completed the Smart Start Experience week, they are invited to apply for our e-mentoring programme, Smarter Futures. Depending on government restrictions, the mentoring will largely take place on-line with a mix of virtual and in-person masterclasses and where you will have the opportunity to meet your mentor from Allen & Overy (or one of our commercial clients, usually an in-house lawyer).

"Without Smart Start, I don’t think I would have applied to Oxford or for a training contract. I’ve overcome hurdles to access these opportunities and I think it’s vital that organisations continue to ensure people like me can realise their potential. The most difficult element of this is eradicating the hidden prejudice that people can face and also understanding the interplay between gender, race and social background. I would love to work my way up at A&O and help to achieve that.”

Anisa, Future Trainee Solicitor at A&O

close up of young woman in boardroom setting

Successful applicants will be awarded £15,000, paid in instalments of £5,000 over a 3 year degree. Along with the financial support Smart Start Scholars receive as part of the scholarship programme, they are also given access to a dedicated mentor and provided opportunities to attend exclusive events delivered by our Graduate Recruitment Team.

students seated in a boardroom setting

Eligible students benefit from support including: a dedicated programme coordinator to help students explore career options, access to work experience opportunities and internships, and a professional mentor from one of upReach’s partner employees.

Smart Start students’ acceptance on the programme is subject to upReach’s eligibility criteria. A successful applicant’s place on UpReach’s programme is fully funded by Allen & Overy for three years. Only students who have completed both the Smart Start Experience week and Smarter Futures will be invited to apply.

“upReach has been hugely important to my professional development journey. Since joining I was given unparalleled support in completing applications for first-year schemes. I don’t know what I would have done without upReach this year, thank you so much!”

Vinay, A&O First and placement on Winter Vacation Scheme A&O (2020)

close up of young female and male smiling

Did you know A&O is a founding member of PRIME?

Providing fair access to quality work experience

PRIME is an alliance of law firms and in-house legal departments across the UK who have made a commitment to broaden access to the legal profession.

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There are certain things you need to be a lawyer. You’ve got to be determined. Hard-working. Switched on to the world around you. But at PRIME, we know those are traits anyone can have. They can’t be bought. They don’t come from private school education, or your parents’ finances. They’re part of who you are, and the person you want to be. So if you want to work in law, you can come from any background at all. Any culture. Any social group. If you’ve got the right attitude, you can become a great lawyer. It all starts here, with legal work experience from PRIME.

Discover more about PRIME.

Smart Start

There are certain things you need to be a lawyer. You’ve got to be determined. Hard-working. Switched on to the world around you. But at PRIME, we know those are traits anyone can have. They can’t be bought. They don’t come from private school education, or your parents’ finances. They’re part of who you are, and the person you want to be. So if you want to work in law, you can come from any background at all. Any culture. Any social group. If you’ve got the right attitude, you can become a great lawyer. It all starts here, with legal work experience from PRIME.

Discover more about PRIME.

Smart Start

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