Helping to open legal education to all

The scholarships are open to anyone studying law, whether exclusively or as part of a combined undergraduate degree

UCD Sutherland Opportunity supported by Mason Hayes & Curran is an exciting new initiative, which has at its core the ambition of developing more outstanding lawyers by broadening the socio-economic circumstances of those who can obtain a legal education.

Why UCD? It is the largest, and some would say the best, producer of law graduates in the country. Recent UCD graduates who benefitted from the access programmes are already making their mark in further studies for the Bar, as trainee solicitors and elsewhere.

A passionate advocate

Why Sutherland? Peter Sutherland was a passionate advocate of excellence in education. He championed the Erasmus programme while European Commissioner for Education in 1985. His belief was that Ireland, as a small country on the periphery of Europe, needed to develop an elite of the best of its citizens regardless of gender, religion or economic background if the country was to compete on the world stage. 

Why MHC? At Mason Hayes & Curran we have inclusion and diversity in education at the heart of our corporate social responsibility endeavours. This is based on a belief that we will all prosper if more have better opportunities.

The origin of our participation lies in a conversation between Jacqui Mahon of UCD Foundation and our Chair, Kevin Hoy, at a UCD Alumni Awards dinner. Kevin explained that our CSR programme concentrated on education. Jacqui and Professor Imelda Maher, Dean of the Faculty of Law, designed a programme which would match our focus. 

As the founding supporter, Mason Hayes & Curran has committed e750,000 (e150,000 for five years). Most of the funding will go towards 10 MHC Cothrom na Féinne Scholarships each year, worth e12,000 per student during the four year undergraduate course. 

The scholarships are open to anyone studying law, whether exclusively or as part of a combined undergraduate degree. 

As well as providing additional financial resources, the scholarships give recipients the endorsement that we believe in them as well as challenging them to realise their potential. Mason Hayes & Curran regards this spend as an investment, not a charitable donation.

Rising access

UCD, through the UCD Access programmes, has produced impressive results already. The percentage of those starting first year who have entered college through the UCD Access programmes has risen from 10% to 21% in two years.

UCD Sutherland Opportunity supported by Mason Hayes & Curran has a number of outreach programmes including moot court competitions for DEIS schools. Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) is the Department of Education and Skills action plan for inclusion. Showing pupils in DEIS schools that a career in law is an option will sow the seeds of ambition for the future.

At a time when rents are at an all-time high, the reality of student life can be very long commutes (daily three hours in some cases), multiple part-time jobs as well as full-time work during holidays. That leaves little if any time to really become part of university life. 

UCD can trace its roots back to St John Henry Newman who wrote about the importance of university in developing the adult:

“A university educates the intellect to reason well in all matters, to reach out towards truth and to grasp it”.

Students need time to develop their skills of active listening and critical thinking. Hopefully, the financial support from Mason Hayes & Curran will help them to do this.

Share the vision

At the opening of the new law school building in 2013, Peter Sutherland stated that: 

“The rule of law underpins the cohesiveness and prosperity of society making a sound legal education one of the most important we can deliver”.

All the more reason to increase the chances of success for those who otherwise might not get to do so. 

In the autumn of this past year, 19 qualifying students applied for the first set of Mason Hayes & Curran Cothrom na Féinne Scholarships. Ten were successful, two received Frank Scott scholarships which left seven without additional financial backup. 

If you share the vision of Newman and Sutherland and wish to help a law student to optimise their time in college, then contact Jacqui at You too can invest in the law stars of the future.

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