Top City firms fund 22 aspiring social welfare lawyers through the SQE

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By Thomas Connelly on


Begin prep with BARBRI this month

Twenty-two aspiring social welfare lawyers have commenced their preparation to sit the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) thanks to a new scholarship fund backed by an alliance of top law firms and legal charities.

The Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund (SWSQF), which Legal Cheek first reported on last year, looks to support people already working in social welfare law but who aren’t legally qualified.

The SWSQF has now secured funding for its first 22 social welfare legal workers, selected from a competitive pool of applicants, to commence their studies with BARBRI this month. The fund hopes to make a dozen awards annually and also covers assessment costs.

Once qualified, each lawyer delivers over 1,200 social welfare law hours annually, making a significant nationwide impact on a sector in critical need of support.

The City of London Law Society and Young Legal Aid Lawyers are behind the scheme, with financial support courtesy of 18 City law firms.

The 2022 Legal Cheek SQE Provider List

They are: Addleshaw Goddard, Allen & Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Clyde & Co, Eversheds Sutherland, Freshfields, Latham & Watkins, Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Norton Rose Fulbright, Shoosmiths, Simmons & Simmons, Stephenson Harwood, Travers Smith, Trowers & Hamlins, Weil Gotshal and White & Case.

Commenting on the fund, Dame Alison Saunders, former director of public prosecutions and now a partner at Linklaters, said:

“The Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund is a great initiative and really important. I have seen first-hand the impact of not having enough criminal legal aid lawyers who are vital to ensuring that all members of society have access to justice which is a fundamental part of the rule of law. I welcome legal organisations financially supporting the initiative.”

The funding initiative follows research published last year by the Law Society which showed over three-quarters of the population (78%) do not have access to a welfare legal aid provider, “leaving them unable to challenge or appeal decisions”.

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