Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund takes on first SQE cohort

updated on 13 April 2022

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The Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund (SWSQF), which is backed by 18 major law firms, has secured funding for its first cohort of social welfare legal workers to begin their journey to qualifying as solicitors via the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

There are 22 social welfare legal workers in the first cohort, who were selected from a competitive pool of applicants to take BARBRI’s SQE preparation course.

The SWSQF, which is funded by leading law firms including magic circle giants Allen & Overy LLP, Clifford Chance and Linklaters LLP, and City of London Solicitors’ Company Charitable Fund, will widen access to justice for users of vital social welfare services, as well as expand social mobility within the legal profession.

Candidates’ full training (ie, BARBRI’s SQE prep course) and assessment costs (ie, SQE1 and SQE2) will be covered by the fund. They will study part-time while continuing to work in their current social welfare roles. Following qualification, each social welfare solicitor will deliver more than 1,200 social welfare law hours each year.

Dame Alison Saunders, Linklaters partner and former director of Public Prosecutions commented: “The Social Welfare Solicitors Qualification Fund is a great initiative and really important. I have seen first-hand the impact of not having enough criminal legal aid lawyers who are vital to ensuring that all members of society have access to justice which is a fundamental part of the rule of law. I welcome legal organisations financially supporting the initiative.”

The fund, which is led by the City of London Law Society in partnership with BARBRI and Young Legal Aid Lawyers, aims to give talented social welfare lawyers of the future the chance to qualify into the profession.

The law firms offering financial support to the initiative are: