30.08.19

Young Legal Aid Lawyers: Who we are and what we do

Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) is a group of lawyers who are committed to practising in those areas of law, both criminal and civil, that have traditionally been funded by way of legal aid. We believe that the provision of good quality publicly funded legal help is essential to protecting the interests of the vulnerable in society and upholding the rule of law.

Who we are?

Young – some us are young, some of us are not quite so young! The “young” in YLAL stands for lawyers who are 10 or less years post-qualification or call to the bar.

Legal Aid – Legal Aid is publicly funded legal advice and representation to people otherwise unable to afford it. Legal Aid is only available for certain areas of law and is also (in almost all of these areas) subject to the client having access to limited financial means.

Lawyers – YLAL members include students, paralegals, trainee solicitors, Chartered Legal Executives, solicitors, pupil barristers and barristers, based throughout England and Wales.

YLAL has a national committee that steers our work. We also hold regular regional meetings each month in London and also in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield so that members can discuss YLAL’s latest work. South Wales has also recently formed a regional YLAL group. For those who can’t make the meetings, minutes are sent out shortly afterwards to keep members updated.

What do we do?

Legal aid lawyers act for ordinary people, often particularly vulnerable clients, and provide them with legal advice and representation.

I act on behalf of clients in Court of Protection proceedings who are deprived of their liberty and lack the capacity to be able to make decisions. My case load also includes civil actions against the police and other public bodies and inquests, where I represent family members of people who have died whilst in state care or detention. Around 90 percent of my cases are funded by way of legal aid.

There are many other areas of work that YLAL members practice in and you can read some of the stories about the incredible work that we do.

Aside from working in this challenging field, we also promote access to justice in other ways. This includes campaigning and putting on events to promote knowledge about the importance of the work that we do.

#TakeYourMPtoWork is a joint campaign which we are currently running with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Legal Aid. We’re organising MPs to visit law centres and legal advice clinics over the next few months to see first-hand why comprehensive early legal advice is so vital.

We are planning to hold a Westminster Hall debate in Parliament where MPs who take part in our campaign can draw upon what they have seen on the #LegalAidFrontline.

We also held a joint conference earlier this year with Public Law Project and the Justice First Fellowship: “The Fight for Social Justice: Young Lawyers Making Change”. This event was aimed at aspiring and junior social welfare lawyers and delivered sessions and workshops on Brexit, housing, state detention, campaigning, criminal justice and much more.

We consider it is fundamental for the legal profession to be accessible to everyone. Last year we collated data regarding diversity and social barriers in the legal profession and published YLAL’s social mobility report. You can read the report here.

YLAL’s objectives are:

  • to campaign for a sustainable legal aid system which provides good quality legal help to those who could not otherwise afford to pay for it;
  • to promote the interests of new entrants and junior lawyers and to increase social mobility and diversity within the legal aid sector;
  • to provide a network for like-minded people beginning their careers in the legal aid sector.

Want to get involved?

Membership is free!

Please take a look at our website for further information about us and how to join us!


Written by Hollie Wheeler, Chartered Legal Executive, Public Law and Human Rights, Irwin Mitchell Solicitors


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