Travers Smith LLP has announced it is collaborating with a host of city law firms to launch the Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund (SWSQF), in a bid to tackle the deficit in junior 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.
Additionally, it reportedly addresses the shortage of social welfare lawyers by “directly tackling” barriers to qualification, such as debt or low wages, Travers Smith said.
The SWSQF covers the full training and assessment costs of successful applicants, each of whom will deliver approximately 1,500 social welfare law hours annually, once qualified.
The fund also increases access to justice for users of social welfare services, as well as broadening entry to the legal profession.
Travers Smith said the new fund will make a “lasting difference” in the field of social welfare law.
The SWSQF is led by the City of London Law Society in partnership with training provider BARBRI, the Young Legal Aid Lawyers Group, the Legal Aid Practitioners Group, and the Law Centres Network.
Additionally, it has financial support from over a dozen city law firms, including Allen and Overy, Ashurst, Clifford Chance, Clyde and Co, Eversheds Sutherland, Freshfields, Linklaters, Macfarlanes, Simmons and Simmons, Stephenson Harwood, Trowers and Hamlins, and White and Case.
Kathleen Russ, senior partner, said: “We are very proud to be a part of this crucial initiative to help tackle the overwhelming need for junior social welfare solicitors and to help tackle some of the barriers facing those who are passionate about pursuing social welfare law.
“This sits alongside our ongoing work in helping tackle social mobility, helping ensure the legal profession is accessible to all, and in using our influence and resources to address pressing social needs.”
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.”