We are delighted to have the opportunity to host a trainee solicitor through The Legal Education Foundation’s Justice First Fellowship Scheme. This scheme was established in 2014 to support the next generation of students committed to public interest and social justice issues who want to pursue a career in social welfare law.
Applications for this year’s JFF scheme are now open with a closing date of 17 September 2018 and the successful candidate for the JustRight Scotland position will commence work with us in January 2019.
Before joining us at JustRight Scotland, our Farida Elfallah was in the second cohort of Justice First Fellows. She qualified as a solicitor in January 2018, after completing her traineeship at Legal Services Agency, working with women, children and young people in the areas of asylum, immigration and human rights law.
We asked Farida to tell us about her JFF experience.
Why did you apply for the Fellowship?
It was an amazing opportunity which fit perfectly with my interests in human rights and social justice. After leaving university I had been volunteering and working in law centres and charities in the refugee sector and I wasn’t sure whether I would practise as a lawyer. At the time that I applied for the Fellowship, I was working with British Red Cross Refugee Services. I loved my job, but I was really excited when I saw the Fellowship opportunity, so I decided to apply. I already knew a lot about the work of my host organisation because I had worked with them before and had a really positive experience, so that was also a big motivating factor.
How was the application and interview process?
I always find job applications and interviews stressful! That said, the recruitment process was different to any other traineeships I had applied for. It was clear that the Fellowship was going to be a unique traineeship and that there was a focus on looking for candidates who had the potential to be future leaders in social welfare law.
Did the Fellowship live up to your expectations?
Yes! The work was really interesting and the people I worked with were experts in their field, so it was great to learn from them.
I really enjoyed working with clients on asylum and immigration cases and as the traineeship progressed I was able to able to take on more responsibility for my own cases, which was very rewarding. Working on my JFF project (which involved casework, policy and training activities focusing on legal issues around access to safety for migrant women affected by violence) was also a great learning experience.
There were also a lot of opportunities for personal development during the Fellowship. The training provided by The Legal Education Foundation during the JFF conferences was fantastic. There was a real focus on supporting the Fellows to develop the skills required to have a sustainable career in social welfare law, so there was training from experts in communications and social media, business planning, funding and project development.
It has also been a real pleasure to get to know the other Fellows in my cohort and some of the Fellows from other cohorts too. All of the Fellows that I have met are lovely and inspiring people, and I’m always interested to hear about the important work they are doing. It feels great to be part of a network of social welfare lawyers across the UK.
How has the Fellowship benefited you now?
I am now working as an NQ solicitor at JustRight Scotland, where I have the opportunity to apply the learning from my JFF project – on preventing destitution for individuals seeking international protection – as a lawyer in their Scottish Refugee and Migrant Centre. I am working alongside the British Red Cross and Shelter Scotland in key collaborations and getting the opportunity to use skills I have learnt through JFF as a social justice lawyer along the way.
JustRight Scotland works across many different areas of law, and with a wide range of partners in Scotland and beyond. It is an exciting organisation to start a legal career with, and the perfect place to host a fellow. We are all looking forward to meeting the next fellow in January!