Future Lawyer Blog

Q & A with one of the winners of this year’s Lincoln’s Inn Helen Grindrod Social Mobility Prize

Mensure Yazici has just finished her second year on the LLB at City and we were delighted to hear that she had been one of eight selected to receive the Helen Grindrod Social Mobility Prize. This new outreach prize for second year undergraduates was launched in 2023 to improve access to the profession for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The prize is named after Helen Grindrod QC, a Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn who passed away in 2002. Helen contributed a huge amount of her time to supporting Lincoln’s Inn students, including as chair of the committee responsible for student activities.

Here we quiz Mensure on the process she went through to secure the prize for 2024.

Congrats on your award! Tell us about what prompted you to apply?

    Two primary factors relentlessly drive me to seize every opportunity: my commitment to excelling at the Bar and my desire to make my mother proud. My mother, who is my biggest role model, faced numerous challenges without making excuses, instilling the same resilience in me. Societal restrictions such as financial instability, lack of representation, or the stigma associated with ethnic women in law are not barriers for me; instead, they motivate me further. The Helen Grindrod Social Mobility Prize symbolises hope and recognition for individuals like me who face financial adversity and implicit stereotyping. It acknowledges our challenging yet fulfilling journeys toward success at the Bar.

    What does the Helen Grindrod Social Mobility Prize offer?

    The Prize is aimed at second-year undergraduate students and seeks to improve access to the profession for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. As one of the eight prize winners, I am honoured to receive not only a free membership to Lincoln’s Inn but also numerous other opportunities. The prize includes a summer school with networking and educational opportunities, a mentor, a mini-pupillage at a local or London chambers, and a monetary award of £250.

    Could you talk through how the application process worked? What was the timeframe? What support did you receive from City?

    The application process consisted of a written application, with an academic referee also making a submission. Submitted via an online form, the application featured a 1,000-word personal statement assessing my suitability and motivation for the Bar, along with a CV. Applications opened on Friday, May 3, and  closed on Monday, May 27, giving students ample time to complete their submissions. This user-friendly process allowed me to demonstrate my written advocacy skills to a prestigious institution and improve essential legal skills even before receiving the prize. I am highly grateful to Romilly Edge, a Senior Lecturer at the City Law School, for overseeing and providing feedback on my application. Additionally, Jane Bradley-Smith, the Associate Dean for Student Experience, kindly acted as my academic referee, pursuant to my role as a Programme Representative at the City Law School.

    What advice would you give to those contemplating applying next year?

    Don’t procrastinate!

    Here are the tips I would give to anyone who is hesitant about applying next year: do not contemplate or procrastinate. Most importantly, do not doubt your potential and skill.

    Human nature often leads us to doubt our capabilities, but the path to success is gradual, requiring steady and informed steps. Be sure to grasp every opportunity that comes your way in order to grow as a person and future professional.

    Participate in volunteering and work experiences related not only to the Bar, but to the Solicitor’s route too, showcasing yourself as a suitable candidate for the Prize and an advocate for the Bar of England and Wales. Ensure that you are equipped with the transferable skills and experiences that will set your apart from your fellow contestants. It is vital to be genuine and true to yourself in your personal statement, highlighting your distinct journey to the Bar. Believe in your abilities and the value of your experiences, and convey your enthusiasm and determination in your application. Remember, contemplation is the root of missed opportunities. Embrace every chance to grow personally and professionally.

    What did you think really helped your application get the attention it deserved?

    My motivation played a crucial role in gaining the attention my application deserved. By adopting a personal narrative, I showcased my passion for the Bar and the opportunity provided by Lincoln’s Inn. This approach highlighted my unwavering dedication to excel at the Bar and demonstrated my potential as a suitable candidate for the prize. By clearly articulating my motivation, providing specific examples, and demonstrating my commitment to making a difference, I ensured my application was compelling and worthy of attention.

    Finally, what’s next for you…?

    As an aspiring criminal barrister, winning the scholarship at Lincoln’s Inn marks a significant milestone in my journey toward achieving excellence in the legal profession. Looking ahead, my immediate focus is on leveraging the invaluable resources and experiences provided by the scholarship to further enhance my legal knowledge and skills.

    In the short term, I am eager to engage in the summer school programme, where I plan to immerse myself in intensive networking opportunities and educational sessions. This will allow me to deepen my understanding of various legal principles and practices, preparing me for the challenges and responsibilities ahead.

    Additionally, I am enthusiastic about the mini-pupillage offered by the scholarship. This hands-on experience will provide invaluable insights into the daily workings of a barrister and help me refine my advocacy skills under the guidance of experienced mentors.

    Looking further into the future, I am committed to continuing my academic and professional development. I aim to qualify as a barrister and specialise in the criminal Bar where I can make a meaningful impact, particularly in promoting access to justice and advocating for marginalised communities.

    Ultimately, my goal is to uphold the highest standards of legal ethics and professionalism while contributing positively to the legal community. I am determined to utilise the skills and knowledge gained through this scholarship to excel in my career and serve as a dedicated advocate for justice and fairness.

    A huge thank you to Mensure for these full and interesting answers – we hope this gives those of you entering LLB2 in the 2024-25 academic year some inspiration!

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