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 chairmain for Scotland and Northen Ireland until his death in March 2017.
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 wholeheartedly approve.”
For aspiring lawyers Demi Scorfield and Darren Woodall, both second-year law students who are part of the first Lawscot Foundation cohort, the scholarship could open many doors. Scorfield said: “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.”
Woodall added: “For those of us with absolutely no previous connections to law, the possibility of obtaining an internship and a traineeship at Pinsent Masons is an exciting prospect.”