Eight Law Centres across the UK host Justice First Fellows this year - applications open!

Wednesday, August 25th 2021

Syeda, Justice First Fellow with Ealing Law Centre, at her graduation from the scheme in August 2020, with Brenda Hale and Matthew Smerdon (LEF CEO). Photo credit: the Legal Education Foundation.

Law Centres Network invites the next generation of social justice lawyers to apply for eight Justice First Fellowships in Law Centres across the country.  

The Justice First Fellowship was established in 2014 by the Legal Education Foundation (LEF) to support the next generation of lawyers to pursue a career in social welfare law. Law Centres have hosted Justice First Fellows every year since the Legal Education Foundation set up the scheme. In some years, up to half of the organisations hosting Justice First Fellows were Law Centres. 

We consider the Fellowship a vital scheme for the social justice sector. The Covid pandemic has worsened pre-existing social problems. Social welfare law will play a crucial part of challenging injustices and helping people find the advice and support they need to overcome the legal barriers and challenges they face. 

In this year’s scheme, there are 19 trainee solicitor posts at leading social justice organisations across the UK. The recruitment round for the Justice First Fellowship will run from Monday 16 August to Monday 13 September 2021. 

Applicants must have passed the Legal Practice Certificate by October 2021, or meet the equivalent requirements for Northern Ireland (see here for full details). They must also be able to demonstrate a commitment to social justice and be ready to start their Fellowship by early 2022. Alongside their solicitor training, Fellows receive a free place on BPP’s professional skills course, or the equivalents in Northern Ireland, and develop a project that advances social justice. 

The Legal Education Foundation CEO, Matthew Smerdon said the following ahead of applications opening:  

“The Justice First Fellowship provides a secure and sustainable route to employment for aspiring social justice lawyers, who are motivated to build a career in this vital area of the legal sector. Since we launched the scheme, over 120 Fellowships have been funded. As a testament to the quality of Fellows and host organisations, 98% of graduated fellows are currently in paid employment with 91% working as lawyers using law for the public benefit to achieve a social good.  

For the 2021 call for applications, we are delighted to once again partner with 19 exceptional host organisations, who can provide exciting work and opportunities to talented aspiring lawyers. All of our 2021 host organisations and co-funders share our vision to build a strong network of future leaders in social welfare law. We look forward to welcoming what will no doubt be a skillful and passionate group to the JFF, as well as hearing their ambitions and motivations along the way.” 

If you have any questions about the application process, or more generally about the Justice First Fellowship, please contact enquiries@thelef.org.  

Apply or read more on the LEF website here

Picture above: Syeda Afaz, Justice First Fellow with Ealing Law Centre, at her graduation from the scheme in August 2020, with Brenda Hale and Matthew Smerdon (LEF CEO). Photo credit: the Legal Education Foundation.