From education to employment


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Now backed by 18 major law firms, the Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund (SWSQF) has secured funding for a first cohort of 22 social welfare legal workers, selected from a competitive pool of applicants, to take the BARBRI prep course and qualify as solicitors.

The UK faces an overwhelming need for social welfare solicitors. Confronted with ongoing societal and economic instability, the client base of those who cannot afford private legal representation is growing in both size and vulnerability.

The SWSQF is a national initiative to turn dedicated social welfare legal workers into social welfare solicitors, supported financially by leading law firms and the City of London Solicitors’ Company Charitable Fund. It will widen access to justice for users of vital social welfare services, and expand social mobility into the legal profession.

The fund aims to make dozens of awards annually, and covers selected candidates’ full training and assessment costs. Starting today, they will study part-time while continuing to work in their current social welfare roles. Once qualified, each will deliver over 1,200 social welfare law hours annually, making a significant nationwide impact on a sector in critical need of support.

“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.” Dame Alison Saunders, Partner, Linklaters LLP, former Director of Public Prosecutions

The SWSQF is led by the City of London Law Society in partnership with legal training provider BARBRI and Young Legal Aid Lawyers. Together, these organisations believe that talented social welfare lawyers of the future, whatever their income or background, must have every opportunity to qualify into the profession. “Effective and available advice is more crucial than ever following the introduction of LASPO 2012, and these scholarships will help to ensure that vulnerable clients can exercise their rights. Removing barriers to entry to the profession will help to alleviate difficulties in accessing advice, particularly following the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to give my support to a scheme that will help qualifying solicitors provide constituents, like mine, with the advice they need so desperately.”Dan Carden, MP for Liverpool Walton

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