Fellowship scheme extended to the Bar

Fellowship scheme extended to the Bar

The Legal Education Foundation’s Justice First Fellowship programme will this year include trainee barristers for the first time

The Legal Education Foundation has selected Pump Court Chambers in London and St John’s Chambers in Bristol to take part in its ground-breaking Fellowship scheme.

Two would-be barristers – one for each chambers – will be recruited to become Justice First Fellows, specialising in social welfare law.

The closing date for Fellowship applications is 4 May 2016

The two-year JFF training programme is being run by TLEF, with support from the Bar Pro Bono Unit. The two successful candidates will each spend a year as paid caseworkers at the unit (starting in September 2016), before beginning pupillage at their respective chambers in 2017.

Both pupillages will have a focus on public family law.

The £40,000-a-year cost of each candidates’ two-year training is fully covered under the scheme. TLEF, a charity dedicated to improving diversity in the legal profession and helping people to understand and use the law, will meet the bulk of the costs, with the Council of the Inns of Court also making a significant contribution to the pupillage costs of each Fellow.

Matthew Smerdon, TLEF chief executive, said:

‘When we launched our Justice First Fellowship scheme in 2013, it broke new ground. We are ambitious for our Fellows and one of our key aims for the scheme is to create the future leaders of the legal profession. With 18 trainee solicitor Fellows in place already, I am absolutely delighted that we have now been able to work in collaboration with the Bar Pro Bono Unit, the Council of the Inns of Court and the Family Law Bar Association to extend the scheme to include the Bar.’

Jess Campbell, Bar Pro Bono Unit chief executive, said:

‘We look forward to helping future generations of the Bar better understand and interact with vulnerable people who struggle to access legal help. Having these talented pupils join the unit as caseworkers will enable us to further facilitate access to justice. It is a privilege to be able to play a role in the training and education of future pro bono barristers.’

Judi Evans, St John’s Chambers, head of family practice group, said:

‘We are proud to be the first set of chambers outside London to be selected for this ground-breaking scheme. The Justice First Fellow will be a great addition to our public family law team, as they will be bringing with them invaluable hands-on experience of casework from having spent their first year as part of the programme working in the Bar Pro Bono Unit.’

Jennifer Lee, Pump Court Chambers, said:

‘We are very excited to be the first set in London taking part in this extremely worthwhile cause, which has the promotion of access to justice, rule of law and equal opportunities at its core. As a set committed to those core values, and proud of our professional excellence, we feel that it is important to give high-calibre candidates, dedicated to advancing those aims, a fair opportunity to become successful members of the Bar in an increasingly competitive environment.’

James Wakefield Director of the Council of the Inns of Court, said:

‘The four Inns are delighted to support the JFF scheme. This is a wonderful initiative by TLEF which will help those seeking access to legal help and those seeking pupillage. The two year programme will provide the Fellows with an excellent grounding in supporting their clients and promoting justice.’


  1. Barrister applications for the Justice First Fellowship scheme must be received by 4 May 2016. Candidates must have completed their Bar Professional Training Course, and be able to demonstrate commitment to social welfare law. jff.thelegaleducationfoundation.org
  2. The origins of The Legal Education Foundation date back to the 1870s, but it has existed in its current guise since 2012. TLEF’s charitable purpose is ‘to promote the advancement of legal education and the study of law in all its branches’. www.thelegaleducationfoundation.org
  3. The Justice First Fellowship scheme was launched in 2013, and currently has 15 host organisations and 18 Fellows. The next cohort of solicitor organisations who will be funded to recruit Fellows in 2016 will be announced in May 2016. Funding for the next two-year cohort of the scheme comes to around £960,000.
  4. The Bar Pro Bono Unit is a national charity which links members of the public who can’t pay for legal advice and aren’t able to access legal aid with barristers willing to donate their time and expertise for free. www.barprobono.org.uk
  5. The Council of the Inns of Court is a charity which promotes high standards of advocacy in the profession. It is primarily funded by Lincoln’s Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn. It is contributing towards the cost of each JFF pupil. www.coic.org.uk
  6. St John’s Chambers is one of the largest sets in the south-west. It covers all major areas of law, and is particularly well known for its public family law work. www.stjohnschambers.co.uk
  7. Pump Court Chambers is one of the leading common law sets, with chambers in London, Swindon and Winchester. www.pumpcourtchambers.com

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