"Although I was an experienced caseworker, there were few opportunities for people from non-conventional backgrounds to train as solicitors, so the Justice First Fellowship scheme gave me the opportunity to expand my skills and qualify. Meeting other JFF fellows, sharing experiences, and attending legal events has not only improved my skills, but has helped me to build lasting relationships."
"JFF is bringing something new to the legal world at a time when it can be sometimes bleak, not least through the diversity of the Fellows coming through. I look forward to seeing what the JFF and all of us Fellows will do next."
"The Justice First Fellowship scheme, which recognised the need to secure future lawyers in this area, provided an amazing opportunity. I was also interested in the opportunity to set up my own project, to help people overcome injustices and get access to the help they need."
"I have really enjoyed the JFF conferences. I feel privileged to be part of such an amazing scheme. Every time I attend, I take away so much from the sessions. I am able to meet really inspiring individuals and catch up with the other Fellows and build a long-lasting network."
"My JFF project is the Greenwich Migrant Hub, which launched in April 2016. Based in Woolwich Common Community Centre, it provides immigration, housing and community care advice to destitute migrants. It also acts as a social space, and somewhere people can get support with health, domestic violence and help integrating into the local community."
"The JFF scheme is a unique experience. You get great support and practical training, not just in the law, but with fundraising and project-management, that helps you become a well-rounded solicitor. You also get lots of support from your peers who are doing the journey with you."
"The Fellowship gives you so many of the skills that you will need to make a career as a legal aid lawyer sustainable."
"The support and training during the scheme elevates the traineeship beyond the standard two-year training contract. As well as the opportunity to develop a project to increase access to justice, you are part of the cohort of fellows."
"I’ve only ever been interested in social welfare and equality law, civil liberties and human rights. The Fellowship scheme provides everything you could possibly want (and more) to forge a career in these areas."
"An important part of the Fellowship programme is that each of us undertakes a project to increase access to justice. My project looked at economic and social rights in a human rights capacity, and sought to develop an evidence base on the impact of the UK and Scottish governments’ policies on vulnerable groups."
"The JFF scheme gives you the opportunity to be part of a wider network of people. Without the Fellowship, I can definitely see how the life of a trainee could feel quite solitary, whereas instead I have a great network of peers. It’s also brilliant at putting me in contact with people I would not otherwise have the chance to meet."
"The JFF scheme is unique and the support from The Legal Education Foundation is much appreciated. It is great to have a group of other like-minded social welfare lawyers to learn from and throw ideas around with. All the fellows are so enthusiastic. It is energising and inspiring – and I have made some good friends."
"To anyone looking to be a legal aid lawyer, I’d say it will be the most rewarding thing you do. The service we provide is hugely underrated and can be stressful, but when you go home at night knowing you’ve changed someone’s life for the better, very little compares."
"The increased assistance of organisations such as TLEF has meant that firms and third-sector organisations have been able to continue to provide essential services to those most in need. It is exciting to see the potential that schemes such as the JFF bring to the profession. They enable flexibility and movement within an area that was otherwise uncertain."
"During the Fellowship, I have found the workshops, where all the Fellows and host organisations are brought together, very useful in building up skills and giving me new ideas about how to approach my project. It is inspiring to meet the other Fellows. I leave these events feeling that we are making a difference."
"I want to use my skills and knowledge to benefit people, and I was drawn to the Justice First Fellowship because of its focus on social welfare law. The fellowship was also an opportunity to build a strong network with like-minded individuals."
"The best thing about being a legal aid lawyer is that your work is all about individuals. Stalling eviction notices, changing child arrangement orders or gaining additional educational provision for a child with special needs, can have such an immediate and potentially life-changing impact."
"I am part of a group with two other Justice First Fellows who also work in children’s law: Jenna Hall from Clan Childlaw, which is based in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Alex Temple from Just for Kids Law, in London. The JFF programme has enabled us to collaborate and visit each other’s organisations. It has been very useful to learn about other jurisdictions, the different types of work they do, and how the law differs throughout the UK."
"Without the Justice First Fellowship I wouldn't have had the opportunity to train at the Public Law Project. It has provided opportunities beyond those of the average training contract. Workshops in fundraising, social media and project planning have helped me develop the skills necessary for a social welfare lawyer in an increasingly difficult environment. I've also made lasting friendships with other Fellows, and look forward to building on that network for future projects."
"Fellows are expected to undertake a project aimed at increasing access to justice. I have looked into the viability of Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) as an alternative income stream for funding employment cases at the centre. Although LEI is no panacea, it could have a significant role to play."
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