Seven more social welfare law training contracts have been created by the Legal Education Foundation (LEF) following last year’s pilot scheme.
The fellowship scheme was set up by the LEF last year for those with a commitment to social welfare law and those wanting to implement change in their community. The introduction of the scheme comes against a backdrop of crippling legal aid cuts and a greater need of pro bono advice and representation.
LEF Chief Executive Matthew Smerdon said: “With steep cuts to legal aid and many other areas of public spending, the need for social welfare lawyers has never been greater.”
The two-year training contract will provide guidance to aspiring lawyers, in working with vulnerable individuals areas such as welfare benefits, immigration, disability, domestic abuse and child welfare. Trainees are also required to manage a project in their communities, which will enhance the access to justice for disadvantaged individuals.
The decision to renew the scheme comes after a successful pilot year, with seven new host organisations receiving an average £75,000 grant to cover salary, training courses and supervision of their fellow.
The hosts this year are Avon & Bristol Law Centre, Ben Hoare Bell, Child Poverty Action Group, Greenwich Housing Rights, Northern Ireland Law Centre, the Legal Services Agency and Shelter.
Priority will be given to those from less advantaged backgrounds in line with a key objective of the scheme: to increase diversity and mobility in the profession.
While the first year was solely funded by the LEF and private grant foundations Unbound Philanthropy and the Esmee Fairbairn foundation, a number of law firms and BPP University are now helping finance the scheme.
The LEF was established with the proceeds of the College of Law’s sale to Montague Private Equity and was founded in July 2013 to encourage the study of law, particularly in low-income backgrounds.
Graduates who have passed the Legal Practice Course (LPC) or its equivalent in Scotland and Northern Ireland can apply to the scheme from now until midnight on the 15th September 2015.