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Who we support

Our social impact projects are for charities, social enterprises and impact-led organisations. We also support certain individuals through established programmes with our partner organisations.

We provide: 

Please take a moment to read our privacy policy.


Our pro bono work

We offer pro bono legal advice to both local and international non-profit organisations and social enterprises.

This includes:

  • representing international NGO clients in legal challenges
  • using our expertise to conduct legal research with clients’ policy and advocacy teams
  • responding to pressing areas of need 

We also help people who face barriers in accessing justice through free legal advice projects. These are delivered in partnership with local organisations.

If you’re part of a charitable organisation or social enterprise and looking for free legal advice, send an email to our pro bono team. We are unfortunately unable to respond to all queries received directly from individuals.    


Sign up for work experience

We offer virtual and in-person work experience programmes for young people who are interested in finding out about a career in law and business.

Virtual work experience

We offer two free, virtual legal work experience programmes covering Employment Law and M&A and Technology Law. Both programmes are self-paced, designed by our lawyers and can be accessed from anywhere in the world. They provide you with a variety of real life tasks to help you understand the day-to-day work of a commercial lawyer.

Smart Start work experience

Smart Start is our award-winning skills development programme for Year 12, or equivalent students. All participants must meet our eligibility criteria.

The programme has been developed in partnership with charity Causeway Education.

There are two ways students can take part:

  • Smart Start Week – An in-person programme at our London office.
  • Smart Applications – A virtual programme made up of 8 live webinars.

Students who take part in Smart Start Week will be invited to apply for Smarter Futures. This is a two-year support programme which consists of opportunities throughout Year 13 and into university (for those students choosing this route). More details are in the table below.

To join Smart Start Week or Smart Applications, students must attend one of our Smart Choices information sessions

Please register to attend a Smart Choices event. Applications close on 1 March 2024.

If you have any queries, please email

Further information about Smart Start                                                                

Smart Start Week

Smart Applications

Where is it?

Allen & Overy London

Online (opportunity to attend an insight day at Allen & Overy’s London office in August.)

When is it?

Monday 15 to Friday 19 July 2024

8 evening webinars in June 2024

What will I get from the programme? 

  • Develop your knowledge of the firm's international profile and find out about the responsibilities of an A&O staff member
  • Familiarise yourself with a professional environment and develop essential skills for success
  • Map your own future career journey and understand the elements of an outstanding job application
  • Be set an overall challenge for the week and work through tasks based on real business scenarios from A&O
  • How to find and apply for solicitor apprenticeships
  • Planning and developing a personal statement
  • Interactive sessions on common admission tests
  • Routes into the legal profession and careers at A&O

What additional support will I receive?

  • Access to Causeway Educations' online platform OSCAR, which supports university applications and all post-18 transitions
  • Following the Smart Start Week, all students will be invited to apply for a place on Smarter Futures.
  • Access to Causeway Educations' online platform OSCAR, which supports university applications and all post-18 transitions

Additional work experience with Social Mobility Business Partnership (SMBP)

Taking place 29 July - 2 August 2024, Smart Start students can apply to the SMBP Work Insight & Skills Experience and, if successful, will visit four different organisations and spend a fifth day with a professional sports club*.

*Places are limited and the application form will be shared at Smart Choices sessions. Applicants must be accepted onto Smart Start to qualify for a place.

During the week students will:

  • Get an in-depth overview of each organisation
  • Understand the role of an in-house lawyer
  • Learn about the psychology of resilience

The SMBP Career Mentoring platform will also support students on their journey towards a career.


What is involved in Smarter Futures?

  • A dedicated mentor and masterclasses at A&O
  • 1:1 tutoring support from Peppo Tutors
  • Employability and careers support from upReach for students attending university
  • An opportunity to apply for the A&O Bursary
  • Employability and careers support from upReach for students attending univeristy*

* Smarter Futures participants must meet upReach's eligibility criteria


What is the A&O Bursary?

Students can apply for a £15,000 bursary if they have completed Smart Start Week and are taking part in Smarter Futures Mentoring*

*Applicants must be accepted on upReach to qualify for the bursary



We have two sets of criteria for our Smart Start programme. Applicants must:

  • be in Year 12 and have always attended a state-funded or non-fee paying school; and
  • be a UK national or EU national with settled status in the UK by the time they apply for university

Applicants must also meet at least one of the following additional criteria. Students who meet more than one additional criteria are more likely to receive a place on either programme.

  • come from a household where no parent or guardian has attended university
  • receive, or have previously received free school meals, Pupil Premium, Education Maintenance Allowance or a 16 to 19 Bursary Fund
  • be or have been in local authority care 
  • be or have been a full-time or part-time young carer
  • come to the UK as a refugee or asylum seeker
  • come from a household where a parent or carer has served in the regular armed forces” before the point about school or college
  • be attending a school or college with:

- below average A-Level or Scottish Highers points score, and/or
- a low rate of progression to higher education

Get support to return to work

We run a yearly employability programme called ReStart for people who are 50 and over who have been unemployed for six months to one year.

Our ReStart programme is a series of workshops which take place online and at our office in London. The programme runs for 11 to 13 weeks.

Participants in the programme will:

  • be mentored by A&O volunteers
  • receive independent advice and guidance
  • get one-to-one coaching from accredited coaches from the Executive Coaching Consultancy
  • get help to rebuild their confidence
  • build a positive outlook
  • learn from shared experiences with other participants

We cannot guarantee that participants will find work either at A&O or elsewhere following the programme.

Learn more about the impact of our ReStart programme and how we're supporting people over 50 into employment.


People from any background or profession can apply.

They must be 50 years of age or older and have been out of work for at least six months.

Applications for ReStart 2024 are now closed. ReStart is an annual programme so information about the next  programme will be shared here in December 2024.


What we fund

The A&O Foundation funds the work of charities, social enterprises and community interest companies covering:

  • access to justice
  • education
  • employment 

Although we support disaster relief efforts, there is no open application process for disaster relief grants.

We do not give funding directly to individuals.

Our grants to charities

Charities can apply for one of three grants.


Access to justice grant

Education and employment grant

Global Grants Programme

Where projects should be based

England, Scotland and Wales

London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Hackney

An area of considerable need, for example a country described as ‘developing’ in UNDP’s Multidimensional Poverty Index


Your work or projects must promote access to justice in the UK

Your work or projects must focus on issues of education, employment and training

We accept applications from charities, social enterprises and community interest companies with projects focussed on:

  • education
  • employment
  • access to justice


£5,000 - £10,000

Up to £50,000 per year (for up to 3 years) + 100 volunteering hours from Allen & Overy staff

Organisations may ring-fence 20% of the grant for core funding

Closing date

31 January 2024

Applications for the Global Grants Programme are currently closed

When will the grant be awarded?

Spring 2024

Summer 2024

Applying for the Access to justice grant or Education and employment grants 

If you would like to apply for an Access to justice or Education and employment grant please request an application form.

Applying for the Global Grants Programme

We are not accepting applications for the Global Grants Programme. If you would like to join our mailing list to hear when the process opens please contact the team

When to apply for more funding

Charities can apply for more funding by following the same application process as before, but the timing of the new application depends on the duration of the funding already received. 

Charities that have received one year of funding can apply for the programme immediately after their funding period ends.

Charities that have received a two consecutive years of funding must wait a year after the last grant period before applying again.

Global Charity Partnership

Our current global charity partner is Women for Women International. The partnership launched on 1 September and will run until 31 July 2025. Our last charity partner was Street Child.

The global charity partnership brings the firm together to support one charity with fundraising, free legal advice (pro bono) and in-kind support. We aim to raise in excess of GBP1 million through the partnership.

A portion of the money we raise will be invested in Women for Women International’s work in Iraq, where the charity will train 250 women on social and economic empowerment issues. Women for Women International will also increase women’s participation in their communities by supporting them to become community advocates.

In addition, the partnership will support Women for Women International’s Conflict Respond Fund, a funding pool designed to allow urgent responses to support women in critical conflict situations, such as in Ukraine and Sudan.

As well as financial support, we are giving Women for Women International free legal advice and other professional support to benefit the organisation as a whole.

If your organisation is interested in future global charity partnerships, send us an email to join our mailing list.

Allen & Overy's work experience programme
Our social impact work