Bristol’s commercial firms club together to help fund a legal aid trainee

Bristol’s four largest commercial firms have banded together to help fund cost of a legal aid training contract.

Osborne Clarke, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft and TLT will co-sponsor part of the £37,500 annual cost of a legal aid trainee at the Avon & Bristol Law Centre, with The Legal Education Foundation funding the rest under its Justice First Fellowship scheme. 

The money will cover the trainee’s salary, supervision, project costs, a laptop and a contribution to the core costs of the host, and the trainee will be hired in November 2015. 

The director of the the Law Centre, Clare Carter, said: “We’re seeing more and more people asking for legal advice who have a complex range of personal and legal problems, and often ones as fundamental as hunger; we are seeing clients who haven’t eaten for days. Demand for our services is increasing at a time when resources are reducing as a result of public sector cuts, leading us to turn more and more to the private sector for support.” 

Avon & Bristol Law Centre
Avon & Bristol Law Centre

She added: “I discussed ways of getting the private sector involved with TLEF, TLT and Osborne Clarke, and they agreed that it made sense to get a group of firms together, via TLEF’s Justice First Fellowship Scheme, to split contributions to the £37,500 a year cost of a trainee. It’s hoped that having the Bristol commercial law firms working together in this way will mean that the funding will be sustainable over more years than the two required to train the new solicitor, with the possibility of other law firms and barristers’ chambers stepping into the mix in future years.” 

Osborne Clarke CEO Simon Beswick said: “Avon & Bristol Law Centre provides an indispensable service to the South West community. We’re proud to support the funding of its traineeship for one special candidate, particularly during this uncertain time for legal aid.”

Avon and Bristol Law Centre hit the headlines earlier this year after Lawyer 2B reported that student volunteers there had overturned 95 per cent of Department of Work and Pensions decisions made over the last two years in relation to 200 claimants who challenged the DWP’s assertion that they were fit for work. For more about the centre’s work, see the autumn issue of Lawyer 2B.


1 Sep 15: Bristol students overturn 95% of DWP ‘fit for work’ declarations

31 Jul 15: Seven more social welfare training contracts on offer as Legal Education Foundation renews scheme