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First batch of ‘incredibly lucky’ sponsored legal aid trainees become solicitors

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Three-quarters stay on

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The first Justice First Fellows (JFFs) — a group of aspiring legal aid lawyers whose training contracts are sponsored by a legal education charity — have now qualified.

Eight of the nine aspiring social welfare lawyers who joined the scheme back in 2014 are now fully-fledged solicitors. The ninth is due to qualify in the summer because she is working on her TC part-time.

The Legal Education Foundation (TLEF) launched the JFF programme in 2013. It aims to combat recent public funding cuts and sponsor Legal Practice Course (LPC) graduates throughout their training. It funds “the salary, supervision and associated costs of trainees at selected social welfare organisations.”

The team has trained up at a number of social welfare organisations throughout the country. These are mainly law centres and charities: the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, the Govan Law Centre, Coventry Law Centre, Speakeasy Advice Centre, Staffordshire North and Stoke on Trent Citizens Advice Bureaux, Coram Children’s Legal Centre, and the Public Law Project. The final fellow trained up civil rights law firm Deighton Pierce Glynn.

Of these eight, six (75%) have been retained by their host organisations, a figure the charity is “delighted about”. One has moved on and is now an employment lawyer at a private practice. The other has decided to pursue a career in social policy rather than doing case work.

Given the current state of the legal aid budget, forging a career in social welfare law is no mean feat, and the JFFs know this. Katy Watts, who trained at the Public Law Project, said she feels “incredibly lucky” to have taken part in the “innovative scheme”. She added:

It has provided opportunities beyond those of the average training contract. Workshops in fundraising, social media and project planning have helped me develop the skills necessary for a social welfare lawyer in an increasingly difficult environment. I’ve also made lasting friendships with other fellows, and look forward to building on that network for future projects.

Since its inception, the charity-run scheme has gone from strength to strength.

A number of new organisations have got on board with the charity — which was born out of the sale of the then College of Law in 2012 — including the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit and the Central England Law Centre. Thanks to a number of new funders, like City law firm Hogan Lovells, TLEF is able to sponsor more JFFs. Legal Cheek revealed last summer that the charity hopes to take the total number of fellows to 50 by this year.

As well as new funders, the charity announced last year it had created a special two-year long fellowship for aspiring social welfare barristers. The two successful candidates will split their time between the bar Pro Bono Unit and one of two chambers (Pump Court Chambers or St John’s Chambers). They are expected to qualify in late 2018/early 2019.

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60 Comments

Anonymous

Funny how Katie makes no comment on them all being women. If they were all men I suspect that would have been the headline.

(72)(7)

Anonymous

Well exactly – where is the diversity.

Discrimination alarm bells should be ringing.

(14)(5)

Anonymous

On the contrary I am surprised Katie hasn’t branded them with some idiotic title, discussed fashion or compared them with Amal Clooney, must be a first time she has written article without any of those points.

(9)(3)

Anonymous

“The Little Mix of the Legal World”?

(21)(1)

Arthur Mann

I’m going to report this vile and sexist scheme to the Law Society’s diversity commissar.

(31)(4)

Anonymous

95% or so of Legal Aid in Private Family Law goes to Women.

So having 100% Female trainees makes sense if you wish to continue with Legal Aid Sexist agenda.

(9)(7)

Anonymous

Well these people don’t work in family law exclusively, and I would like a scores for your claims- but I ageee we should better fun men fleeing domestic abuse etc to make legal aid in family law fairer

(3)(0)

Man

I fleed domestic abuse in my marriage.

If my parents hadn’t been wealthy enough to give me £15k to cover all the legal costs, I’d currently be on the scrapheap and without a relationship with me child.

She of course got legal aid by lying.

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Um it’s not discrimination- legal aid work is not highly valued and men do not want to do it. It’s really not the case that women are stealing the legal aid work away from men. I have done it- it’s gruelling and pays peanuts. There are of course some male legal aid lawyers, but men tend to enter better paid areas of law.

(11)(3)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(4)(4)

Anonymous

Well that’s just wrong. The logical extension of your argument is that the pay in law is down to what work women choice to do.

Clearly that’s incorrect, so why would you assume men are less careing?

I’m not sure if your a sexist troll or a university feminist who is happy with sexism as long as it’s phrased in a way that is makes it seem like it helps women. Either way I would ask this fundamental question- if men do work in the sector less, why is that? Is there a fundamental difference between the sexes? Is it not more likely that people look at a male legal aid lawyer at interview and wonder why they are there? Therefore they don’t get the job?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Legal aid is means tested. So what does that say when overwhelmingly women are poor enough to qualify?

(8)(3)

Anonymous

They don’t bother to work – To get Legal Aid.

(3)(2)

Anonymous

That’s not the only requirement. Plenty of me are poor enough to qualify but fail to convince they are fleeing abuse.

Where are they meant to go to get help Dili g in the form? There aren’t enough refuges for women but there are almost none for men. If they don’t have access to that support how are they going to know what to put down to qualify?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

All look like social workers not professional at all… and ever so diverse…

(17)(12)

Trumpenkrieg

They look like George Soros’ useful idiots.

(1)(13)

Putinenkreig

Just like you are for me, my pet.

(7)(1)

Trumpenkrieg

I think not even the people who find me completely obnoxious find you funny.

(2)(13)

Putinenkreig

Hush now, don’t get grumpy with master.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

Yeah Trumpenkrieg is right. You are painfully unfunny.

(0)(9)

Anonymous

Looks like the troll hates to be trolled…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Hope these people enjoy a lifetime of shoddy pay and lunches at their local Greggs

(12)(14)

Scouser of Counsel

I for one love a Greggs pasty.

And this lot will have an interesting career, albeit not the best paid.

(17)(0)

Rzbg

Delighted to see this.

To use your argument when it’s all men “maybe they’re just better?”

(9)(13)

Anonymous

Are you stupid? Everybody knows it doesn’t matter who is technically better, it is all about perception.

(4)(5)

Anonymous

Rzbg, maybe they are all better. This is about double standards though.

(7)(3)

Anonymous

lol at working in legal aid. not only is there no money, but most of your clients are horrible chav scum (and the majority are factually guilty anyway)

(9)(9)

Not a classists

So the difference between corporate law and social security law is your pay and the clients accent then?

(11)(5)

Meh

Maybe men didn’t apply. If that’s the case it’s pretty damning that men don’t want to work in welfare…

(4)(3)

Anonymous

Not really ‘damning’; we just know it’s shit.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

I’m a man who’s applying for the scheme next year. If a man suggested that about women in science they be a sexist. Please at least think before you post.

From what I have seen of the application process (for one organisation) -they don’t like working class men. The only people that worked their seemed to have been to private school. That could be something to do with it.

(4)(1)

Man

Working class men are too much like the clients they purport to represent.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

I actually think it’s more to do with the fact that the only people who can become legal aid lawyers these days are the wealthy. You need to have rich parents or a rich partner, particularly in London. If you are working class, you are probably more interested in getting a job that pays you enough to eat. But good on you for applying- I hope the process goes well. I used to be a legal aid lawyer- took 4 years for the horrible reality of my stressful life and lack of money to sink in and I left. But I take my hat off to all the people who still do it.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

While I fully understand what your saying- and quiet agree with you- I included volunteers as working there. It seems suspicious that more rich people applied to work for free there- though not impossible

(0)(0)

Anonymous

How can you afford to work for free if you’re not rich? Any sector that relies on unpaid internships to get in a foot in the door effectively favours the wealthy.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

It is a real shame that no thought was given to diversity. It reflects very badly on the TLEF and dissuades able men from applying next year.

(6)(1)

Not Amused

Perhaps Katie could ask TLEF for a comment on the lack of men? It seems a reasonable thing to question and there’s no need to let a point like this fester.

(6)(4)

Anonymous

Looking at there website only 1of the 18 fellows appoint at this point has been a man. I think that’s worse than most private firms and warrants a comment at least.

(5)(1)

Anonymous

Appointed*

(1)(1)

Anonymous

As I have said above, it might be a reflection on the applicants- I doubt 50% of them were men. Legal aid work is back breaking. Men are more likely to be future breadwinners and cannot ever hope to support a family on 25k a year in London, working 60 hour weeks. It’s like pointing out that most cleaners and nurses are women. Yes, they are, because men tend to go for higher paid and higher status jobs. Not because they are discriminated against when applying.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

That’s just rubbish. “It’s like pointing out that most bin men and lorry drivers are men. Yes, they are, because women tend to go for higher paid and higher status jobs.” See what I did there?

Maybe you should apply for this position because I’m not sure many fee-paying clients will be happy with logic like that.

(8)(2)

Anonymous

That’s a rubbish analogy.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

“As I have said above, it might be a reflection on the applicants- I doubt 50% of them were men.”

That argument doesn’t cut the other way with the feminist sistas.

(0)(2)

Anonymous

A sample size of 9 is hardly large enough to make discrimination claims. Of course it raises a few eyebrows and TLEF should be aware of how it looks given the furore surrounding “jobs for the boys”. But as others have said, possibly more women applied or possibly the women who applied were better than the men.

Bottom line, these 9 individuals secured places and well done to them – gender politics shouldn’t detract from individual accomplishment.

So on behalf of men/women/lawyers/people – good job!

(8)(6)

Pantman

Let’s not have speculation as to the reason, why can’t we just have an answer?

(1)(1)

Anonymous

As one of those 9 women, this comment is much appreciated. Thank you.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

gender politics shouldn’t detract from individual accomplishment

is that just when it suits your cause?

(1)(0)

Posh Spice

They look a rag-tag bunch…

Couldn’t they have dressed smartly at least for their group photo…?

(8)(2)

Pantman

I read all of the comments above, and it still strikes me as slightly odd that all of those on this scheme are women. If it’s only open to women, then fair enough – I don’t have an argument wth that. But even if it is assumed that more women would apply for the roles, that still doesn’t explain why there are no men.

Legal Cheek should ask the question – if it comes back as ‘that’s the profile of the applicants/we appoint purely on merit’, then fair enough. But the question should be asked.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

I love that when there is any mention of discrimination against women it’s cries of snowflake all round, and yet when it is reversed commenters are spluttering into their lattes.

I for one am so hoping this turns out to be a massive feminazi conspiracy. How exciting this would be. Sadly I think that the commenters who say that well-qualified men go into better paid work are on the money on this one.

(7)(2)

Anonymous

https://www.jcpc.uk/watch/jcpc-2014-0066/081116-am.html

Caribbean death row case in our very own Supreme Court in London in November 2016 where the issue of whether a black man lives or dies is being argued over and decided by white men.

(0)(3)

Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

Quick we are losing the argument lets bring another minority in to tackle the white man?

(1)(0)

WASP Man

So no-one else is astonished that:

a) Our very own Law Lords are still deciding death penalty cases here in London.

b) That they’re all white and all (but one) men?

(0)(0)

Iami Tafari

Usual racism and sexism of LC, who now remove me post coz me black

(0)(3)

Iami Tafari

Dem no remove me yet? I is a man too!

(1)(3)

Dindu

Me 2!!!

(1)(0)

Iami Tafari

Manyego Bredrin. It’s a trap Dem no remove our posts

(0)(0)

Iami Tafari

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)

Iami Tafari

Jahjah dem remove me post at last. Me knew it was a trap 🙂

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.