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‘Need for social welfare lawyers has never been greater,’ says TLEF

Big law backs Justice First Fellowship Scheme which will provide £75,000 to LPC graduates with a passion for helping society's most vulnerable

12 August 2015

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The Legal Education Foundation (TLEF) is to offer seven training contracts designed to produce a new generation of specialist social justice lawyers and increase access to justice for the UK's most vulnerable.

The Justice First Fellowship Scheme targets legal practice course (LPC) graduates, with successful applicants undertaking a two-year term as fellows for the duration of their training contracts and receive around £75,000 to cover salary, supervision, and training courses.

The aim of the programme is to train a new generation of lawyers and potential future leaders of the advice sector working with vulnerable people in the areas of housing, welfare benefits, disability, immigration, domestic abuse, and child welfare.

It is the second year the initiative has run, with host organisations in England, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. TLEF is partnering with universities, philanthropic organisations, and law firms including Allen and Overy, DAC Beachcroft, and Herbert Smith Freehills.

Allen and Overy partner Mark Mansell, commented: 'At a time when we are seeing the access to justice landscape changing, Allen and Overy is proud to support the next generation of social welfare lawyers through this unique fellowship programme.'

TLEF 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.'

He added: 'When we established the scheme in partnership with the Esme?e Fairbairn Foundation and Unbound Philanthropy last year, our hope was that we could help find and develop the next generation of passionate social justice advocates.

'The sponsors and host organisations are strengthening their support for the fellowships. Together we can create wonderful opportunities for fulfilling careers that help the most vulnerable people in our communities.'

Sue Bent, director of the Central England Law Centre, said: 'Our trainee has been working on developing links with black and minority ethnic women (BME) who may find it difficult to report domestic violence. She is developing our 'safe place' service which aims to give women back some control by making them aware of their rights and the options they may have.'

Esther Nimmo is an editorial assistant at Solicitors Journal

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