The number of students wanting to specialise in legal aid work has increased by nearly a third in the past two years according to the latest figures published today by The College of Law.
Last September 306 students embarked on the Public Legal Services Route which the College introduced in 2005/6 for students interested in a career in publicly-funded work. The programme enables students on the College’s Legal Practice Course to gain experience in legal aid work and thereby increase their chances of securing employment in it.
The current intake represents a 32% increase over the 232 students who joined the programme in September 2005. It is also an 11% increase on the number (275) who participated in 2006/7.
Steve Evans, LPC Director (Operations), said: “What is extremely pleasing is the increase in the number of students, college-wide, who display this commitment to working in the publicly-funded environment despite the impact of recent funding changes and general uncertainties in this area”
The programme includes a placement on of the College’s many Pro Bono schemes, attending a bespoke series of workshops, a choice of relevant electives as specialist subjects and the completion of a reflective portfolio which provides a showcase for the students’ achievements. Public lectures by guest speakers (including representatives of the Legal Services Commission) who are experts in legal aid work are also offered during the year.
Many students felt that the Route helps them in their applications to training contracts. One student wrote: “At the interview I demonstrated both commercial awareness and awareness of publicly-funded work. This really made me stand out….I got the interview on the strength of the PLS work on my CV….Overall I feel I have a real head start over other trainees because of the PLS route.”