JLD chair speaks out against cut in legal aid training budget

The Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) has lambasted The Legal Services Commission (LSC) for scrapping its multi-million pound training contracts grants scheme.

The JLD chair Heidi Sady hit out at the proposal, insisting it would not only create a major barrier for those would-be lawyers who want to work in legal aid but would also reduce access to justice among those who cannot afford to pay for it privately.

“At a time when training contracts are increasingly difficult to obtain, a further reduction of those available is something that the JLD does not support,” said Sandy.

“The scheme is vital to train lawyers in areas of law where the public need access to justice most and to remove them is another obstacle for our members to practice in areas they are passionate about.”

The LSC training contracts scheme, which was launched in 2002, provides awards of up to £20,000 to legal aid firms to pay Legal Practice Course fees and trainee solicitor salaries and was only expanded less than two years ago when the LSC awarded 150 grants worth a whopping £3m (read more).

But last week the LSC put a statement on its website stating that it would not be awarding any training grants this year (see story).

Students have also criticised the LSC’s plans and University of East Anglia student Natasha Bowyer said the proposed cuts would put young people off going into legal aid altogether.

“Legal aid lawyers play a vital role in society and scrapping this scheme poses yet another barrier for aspiring lawyers to overcome,” she said. “Government spending cuts continue to hit hardest where the money is most needed. If the legal aid budget is not safe, what will be next?”