A UNIVERSITY of Edinburgh student who was supported at the start of her studies by the Law Society of Scotland’s Lawscot Foundation has become the first recipient of a scholarship launched in memory of the late Pinsent Masons lawyer Kirk Murdoch.

Demi Scorfield, who last year spoke about the positive impact Lawscot Foundation mentoring had had on her self-confidence, will now receive financial support from Pinsent Masons during the third and fourth years of her course and will also be offered summer internships at the firm.

In addition, as the recipient of the Kirk Murdoch Scholarship Ms Scorfield will be supported throughout her post-graduate diploma in professional legal practice and, should she meet certain criteria, will be offered a training contract at Pinsent Masons when her diploma completes.

“I researched Kirk’s career and heard about his many qualities from colleagues who knew him well, so I am honoured to receive a scholarship in his name,” Ms Scorfield said.

“The different elements of support will make a big difference as I progress through my law degree and I know how competitive it is to obtain a summer internship in a legal firm, so I am very excited at this great opportunity.”

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Mr Murdoch, who passed away in 2017, was a long-serving partner at Scottish firm McGrigors and, when that firm was taken over by Pinsent Masons in 2012, went on to serve as chair of the international outfit’s Scottish and Northern Irish practices.

Following his death the firm set up the Kirk Murdoch Memorial Fund to run alongside the Law Society’s Lawscot Foundation, a charity dedicated to providing financial backing and mentoring for students from underprivileged backgrounds.

While the foundation, which launched in 2016 and made its first awards in 2017, initially supported eight students each year, the backing of the Kirk Murdoch Memorial Fund enabled it to increase that number to nine as of last year.

The scholarship Ms Scorfield has been awarded was established to enhance that, with all nine students in receipt of Lawscot Foundation support invited to apply for the additional support at the end of their second year.

Pinsent Masons partner Richard Masters, who succeeded Mr Murdoch as chairman for Scotland and Northern Ireland, said that Ms Scorfield is a “fitting recipient” of the first scholarship award, adding “we sincerely hope she will go on to become our first Kirk Murdoch Scholarship trainee solicitor within the firm”.

“The Kirk Murdoch Scholarship is a fitting tribute and a lasting legacy for a man who went out of his way throughout his career to help others to progress and to make the best of their opportunities,” he said. “I have met Demi a number of times and I can tell she will be a fitting recipient of this award.”

Liz Campbell, director of education, training and qualifications at the Law Society, agreed, noting that Ms Scorfield is “extremely deserving of the extra funding and support”.

“Her drive and ambition has been incredible, which sets a great example for those considering a career in the Scottish legal profession,” she added.

As the first person in her family to go to university, Ms Scorfield first applied for help from the Lawscot Foundation both to benefit from the financial assistance and to get advice on how best to deal with university life.

“No one in my family has ever studied at university so I did not really know what to expect,” she said last year.

“The mentoring support I have been given through the Lawscot Foundation has been a massive boost to my self-confidence, while the bursary was a great help with buying law books and with rent, and without this help it would be extremely difficult.”

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When the foundation launched Law Society chief executive Lorna Jack said its aim was to bring down “barriers for anyone who is academically bright enough” to pursue a career in law but who comes from one of the many Scottish communities that “do not produce lawyers”.

Like Ms Scorfield, all those supported by the foundation in its first year were the first in their family to go to university.

Most had also either spent time in care, had been homeless or acted as young carers.