The Justice First Fellowship

The Justice First Fellowship 

The Justice First Fellowship was established in 2014 by the Legal Education Foundation (LEF) to support the next generation of lawyers committed to public interest and social justice issues who want to pursue a career in social welfare law. The scheme provides fully funded opportunities for intending lawyers who are committed to public welfare law to take up a two year training period with one of the Fellowship’s host organisations.

The aim is for the scheme to be seen as a route to a career in this important area of law, with Fellows going on to become leaders in their field and important advocates for access to justice and the rule of law. So far, the scheme has recruited and placed 31 Fellows.

This year, the Legal Education Foundation is working with CILEx to extend the Justice First Fellowship scheme to offer opportunities for Graduate members of CILEx (GCILEx) to secure/complete placements to allow them to achieve the Qualifying Employment necessary to achieve Chartered Legal Executive status (FCILEx).

In order to move this process forward LEF is seeking host organisation applications from organisations that meet the requirements to supervise the placement period to achieve the Qualifying Employment necessary to achieve Chartered Legal Executive status.

The Justice First Fellowship consists of three parts over two years. 

  • Pupillage, Training Contract and Qualifying Employment placements for law graduates seeking to pursue careers in social welfare law;
  • During their training period, Fellows develop and implement a project that will advance access to justice in some way;
  • Fellows are also brought together to receive additional support, training and networking opportunities to gain skills and feel part of a wider movement of people committed to access to justice.

When seeking host organisations, the LEF look for organisations that are:

  • committed to, and expert in, different categories of social welfare law
  • innovative, effective and thinking creatively about future sustainability
  • involved, in different ways, in work that is of national significance
  • can demonstrate a strong training ethos.

The LEF also ask for details of:

  • the funding sources an applicant organisation has and a copy of its latest Report and Accounts
  • whether it already employs any CILEx Members or paralegals
  • what specialisms it has
  • why TLEF should support your organisation in preference to others
  • how you will incorporate the Fellow’s project requirement into the training period.

If you think your employer would meet the above criteria, please share with them and ask them to contact Matthew Smerdon for more details on