Legal charity launches new family law focused social welfare pupillage scheme

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By Thomas Connelly on

Special two-year fellowship will see successful candidates split their time between the Bar Pro Bono Unit and chambers


A new charity-backed scheme that will fund two wannabe barristers through a special social welfare pupillage has been unveiled this week.

The Legal Education Foundation (LEF) — the charity that sprang from the initial sale of the University of Law in 2012 — has created a special two-year long fellowship, which will see aspiring barristers split their time between the Bar Pro Bono Unit and one of two chambers.

As part of the charity’s Justice First Fellowship, two successful candidates will spend their first year at the bar’s free legal advice centre working primarily as caseworkers. In their second year, pupils will then move into chambers, undertaking predominantly family law focused work.

The pupils will be based either at Pump Court Chambers, one of London’s leading common law sets, or St John’s Chambers in Bristol, one of the largest chambers in the south-west. To be eligible, candidates must not only have passed the Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC), but also be able to demonstrate a genuine “commitment to social welfare law”.

This is the first time the Justice First Fellowship has financially backed wannabe barristers since its launch. In 2014, the scheme provided sponsorship for eight training contracts at law centres and charities across the UK.

Speaking to Legal Cheek at the time, foundation chief executive Matthew Smerdon revealed there were plans in the pipeline to extend the programme to support BPTC graduates. Those plans have now come to fruition and the first set of pupils will start this September.

Applications close on 4 May with interviews taking place later in the summer. More information on the scheme can be found here.