Denton Wilde Sapte is giving away £50,000 of dormant client funds to help London postgraduate students.
The firm has donated the money, which has been topped up by government funding to total £75,000, to enable students at the Bloomsbury and Stratford campuses of Birkbeck University struggling with their fees to pay for their courses.
The grants total £1,000 per year per student.
DWS finance partner Matthew Harvey, who sits on the firm’s pro bono committee, said that the cash would benefit students from a wide range of disciplines.
“It is aimed at supporting the local community,” he said. “We don’t want to get too involved in the minutiae of making choices [about who receives it] – we leave that to the experts at Birkbeck.”
The firm had to apply for clearance from the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) in order to use the money, which had been unclaimed or unused by clients for at least six years.
An SRA spokesman told The Lawyer: “Every so often solicitors scoop up money when they can’t contact the client.
“Provided various conditions can be met they can apply to the regulator to put it to good use.”
The conditions include repaying the client should they subsequently emerge, and channelling the money to a bona fide charitable cause.
“We would want to make sure that it’s not a trust fund set up by a solicitors’ auntie to help benefit her nephew,” the spokesperson clarified.
Adrian Punaks, Head of Development and Alumni, Birkbeck. said: “The generosity and support shown by Denton Wilde Sapte is invaluable to the Stratford project.
“[The scheme] is appreciated greatly by the College, and of course, by those students who receive awards as it can be the deciding factor for people struggling to afford their studies.”