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Smart Start work experience for Year 12 students

close up of young female and male smiling

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

Since its launch, the Smart Start Experience has supported over 1,500 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. As the programme in 2021 will differ from previous years, please note that City & Guilds will not confirm the programme is Assured until its annual renewal process has been completed after the Smart Start Virtual Week has taken place.

In partnership with Causeway Education

In 2021, we will be partnering with Causeway Education to deliver the Smart Start Experience. Causeway Education is a charity which supports young people through key educational transitions.  Applications for Smart Start 2021 are now closed.

room of students in a seminar
Smart Start students around table
Access to education and employment

The Smart Start Experience

By participating in the Smart Start Experience, young people gain a real insight into the world of work and learn about the wide range of careers available within a global business such as Allen & Overy. Through a timetable of interactive online workshops and team challenges, participants develop the skills necessary to succeed in a professional career, from analysis and negotiation to presentation and teamwork. Participants also receive practical support with interview technique, CV writing, networking, and improving their personal impact.
Applications for Smart Start 2021 are now closed.

The Smart Start Virtual Week

The Smart Start Virtual Week provides young people with a five-day timetable of interactive online workshops and group tasks to engage in. Applicants who successfully gain a place on the Smart Start Virtual Week will build on what they learned in the Smart Skills online course and develop essential attributes required to succeed in an international business like Allen & Overy. Successful applicants will be set an overall challenge to complete for the week which will be divided into a series of daily challenges, allowing them to showcase their teamwork and time management abilities. During the week, successful applicants will also understand the importance of building a network of professional contacts with their fellow Smart Start participants. 

Smart Start 2021 at a glance

 

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


The application process for the Smart Start Experience is comprised of two stages. Both stages of the application process must be completed in order to gain a place on the programme.

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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 Smart Start students 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, 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 Khan, Future Trainee Solicitor at A&O

 
close up of young woman in boardroom setting

Scholarship

For those Smart Start students going on to study at university and who have participated in Smarter Futures, Allen & Overy offers a scholarship 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 Smart Start 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 Naik, 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, 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 Khan, 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 Smart Start 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 Naik, 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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