Ashfords Equity essay competition

UWE Bristol students and recent graduates could win one of eight cash prizes through our Equity essay competition, supported by Ashfords LLP.


This competition is a positive action activity open to students and recent graduates from any college at UWE Bristol who identify as black, Asian and minority ethnic.

Positive action is lawful under the Equality Act 2010 and education providers can offer additional support for underrepresented and disadvantaged groups based on past discrimination.

How to apply

Enter by answering the legal essay question that corresponds with the year of study that you are in or have just finished. The word limit for all the essays is 1,000 words.

The competition opens on 28 March 2022 and closes at 23:59 BST on 8 July 2022. 

Essays should be submitted via email to with the subject line ‘Ashfords Equity Essay Competition – Your Name'. Please submit your entry using your university email address.


Essay questions

Levels 0 and 1 (foundation year and year one)

Diversity/corporate social responsibility

DJS Research commissioned by the Law Society at the start of 2020 found that ‘Many law firms are doing a lot of work in the field of diversity, but change is coming too slowly or not at all in many areas and more needs to be done’.

In your essay, describe the barriers that prevent ethnic minority graduates from gaining employment and progressing in the legal sector, and suggest recommendations that could make the industry more accessible and inclusive.

Levels 2 and 3 (years two and three)

Legal tech/artificial intelligence

“The legal sector has generally been slow in embracing innovation. But now the legal technology market is evolving fast… Businesses don’t have endless cash to invest, and it’s important to understand the most pressing issues and areas most suited to automation to maximise efficiencies.” (Legal Technology: A Quick Glance at the Market, Ashfords LLP).

Critically analyse the challenges and opportunities that developments in the legal tech sphere present to a law firm like Ashfords LLP.

Postgraduate students

Small and medium-sized businesses

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) play a vital role in driving economic growth and productivity at both a regional and national level. It is estimated that by 2025, SMEs in the top ten cities in the UK will contribute £241 billion to the economy. However, despite their immense contribution to economic growth and development, a number of SMEs continue to experience high failure rates due to different challenges they encounter.

Critically discuss and analyse the key legal and business challenges faced by SMEs today. In your essay, put forward recommendations on how some of these challenges could be overcome.

2021 undergraduate course graduates

A critical discussion on the impact of COVID-19 on black, Asian and minority ethnic graduates and employability

The inequalities that persist in terms of employment opportunities and pay gaps between ethnic monitory graduates and white graduates is well documented. The impact of COVID-19 has seen a dramatic rise in the number of job applications among ethnic minority graduates.

Critically discuss whether this rise in the number of job applications by ethnic minority graduates is a sign of growing inclusivity in the job market or are they simply battling enhanced recruitment bias owing to the impact of COVID-19?

Evaluation criteria

Your essay will be evaluated based on:

  • quality of analysis (is it convincing, substantiated and understandable?)
  • thoroughness of research (types and varieties of source material, such as case law, journal articles, books etc.)
  • originality (even though the topic may have been discussed in various publications, is your approach innovative?)
  • quality of writing (such as style, clarity and structure).

Competition rules

  • This competition is open to students in any discipline enrolled on a course at UWE Bristol for the 2021/22 academic year who identify as black, Asian or minority ethnic. This includes students who graduated in 2021.
  • You are tasked with writing an essay, answering the question above that corresponds with your level of study during the 2021/22 academic year. 
  • Given that the prize sponsor is a law firm, the questions have a legal focus. However, the nature of the questions is broad.  Therefore, we encourage submissions from students who study in other schools and colleges across the University.
  • There will be two prizes awarded in each category.  The winner will receive a cash prize of £1,000 and the runner up will receive a cash prize of £500. A certificate will be awarded at a university event (date to be decided).

In your essay

  • The word limit for this competition is 1,000 words (not including footnotes).
  • Please ensure that you provide the following details on the first page of your essay document:
    • full name and student number
    • year of study (as per the 2021/22 academic year)
    • essay question (not included in word count)
    • word count.
  • Please ensure that you adhere to the principles of good academic practice and use the OSCOLA or Harvard referencing system to reference your work. Failure to properly reference your work to original source material may result in your submission being excluded from the competition.
  • Essays should be submitted in Microsoft Word format only with 12-point font, Times New Roman or Arial. Please also include a full bibliography.
  • Any essay submitted as part of the competition must be your sole creation and original work. Essays must not have been submitted for an assessment, published or committed for publication in any journals.

Right of publication

  • Ashfords LLP, UWE Bristol and the Equity programme at UWE Bristol reserve the first right of publication for prize-winning submissions.

Previous winners

  • Previous winners of the Ashfords Equity essay competition are not eligible to apply.

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