UK legal sector joins forces to launch new fund for aspiring social welfare solicitors

Linklaters is proud to support the City of London Law Society’s (CLLS) Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund (SWSQF) – a unique cross-sector initiative focussed on increasing the number of social welfare solicitors in the UK.

Led by the CLLS, in partnership with training provider BARBRI, Young Legal Aid Lawyers, the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, and the Law Centres Network, the scheme provides the funds for dedicated social welfare legal workers from across the country to qualify as social welfare solicitors.

The cross-sector and nationwide fund targets dedicated social welfare legal workers by providing them with the funding to train and qualify as social welfare solicitors. It addresses the persistent shortage of social welfare lawyers by directly tackling barriers to qualification, such as debt or low wages.

Ellie Reeves MP, Shadow Solicitor General, said:

‘The Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund is an excellent initiative that will help aspiring solicitors from all backgrounds to qualify as social welfare lawyers, ensuring that people who care deeply about public welfare will be able to begin their legal careers without worrying about costs. I am proud to offer the Fund my support and I encourage as many firms as possible to get involved.’

The Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund (SWSQF) increases access to justice for users of social welfare services, at the same time as broadening entry to the legal profession. The fund covers the full training and assessment costs of successful applicants, each of whom once qualified will deliver approximately 1,500 social welfare law hours annually.

Richard Miller, Head of Justice at The Law Society of England and Wales, said:

‘This initiative will help rebalance a small part of the access to justice challenge – by ensuring people stay in social welfare legal work, and helping them gain the education and qualifications they need to act effectively as social welfare solicitors. This is a really good addition to efforts being made by many to ensure those in need have adequate legal representation when they most need it.’

Patrick McCann, Chair of the CLLS Training Committee and Global Head of Learning at Linklaters, commented:

‘I am tremendously proud of this scheme and it is wonderful to see it come to fruition. At the CLLS, we anticipate the first year of the scheme qualifying around 15 social welfare solicitors and the scheme is attracting more interest all the time.’

Mark Drury, Trainee Recruitment Partner at Linklaters, stated:

‘The scheme can help make a lasting difference to the sustainability of social welfare legal services – underpinning access to justice in the UK. Removing barriers to entry to and progression within the legal profession, the initiative will help dedicated individuals continue their vital social welfare work and qualify as much needed social welfare solicitors.’

Applications to the SWSQF are now open until 17 January 2022.