Support up to 20 rookie solicitors
A new initiative has been established with the goal of providing financial support to trainee welfare lawyers throughout their training contracts.
The Supporting Social Justice Solicitors (SSJS) programme aims to provide assistance to individuals employed in the sector without legal qualifications, including paralegals and case workers.
The initiative is led by the Access to Justice Foundation (AJF) and specifically targets those whose prep and exams fees for the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE) is covered by the Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund (SWSQF).
The SWSQF was launched in December 2021 through a collaboration involving the City of London Law Society, SQE prep provider BARBRI, and Young Legal Aid Lawyers. The initiative recently hit £1 million in committed funding from some 30 firms and organisations.
The SSJS programme aims to extend crucial financial support until qualification by covering the salaries of trainees throughout their two-year training contracts, now often referred to as qualifying work experience.
The AJF has already contributed £100,000 to the programme but hopes to hit a target of £500,000 through partnerships and sponsorships.
The AJF said the programme aims to ensure a “steady pipeline” of social welfare lawyers by offering a route to qualification for those who may not have access otherwise. SWSQF students “often have lived experience of marginalisation and a direct connection with their communities, enabling them to identify and address specific barriers to justice”.
It hopes to support around 20 aspiring social welfare solicitors to qualify at organisations “specialised in helping the most marginalised in society”. This, it says, will deliver approximately 1,230 hours of social welfare law hours annually.