On the 3rd of June the Scottish Government launched a new £1 million fund to support legal aid traineeships in Scotland, the fund and application will be managed by the Law Society of Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Government.
The fund will provide support for up to 40 new legal aid trainees, paying for 50% of their salaries, as well as their regulatory costs, National Insurance, Practising Certificate costs and Trainee CPD will all be half-funded by the grants.
To be eligible to apply for the funding, firms must have at least 20% of their business come from legal aid work and trainees hired as a result of grants must spend the majority of their time working on legal aid cases. Applications will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis.
Ken Dalling, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “We have pushed hard for support for the legal aid sector and are pleased that the legal aid traineeship fund is now in place. It provides a much-needed boost for this hard-pressed, yet vital, part of the profession and is a step forward in addressing concerns over future sustainability. There are still serious issues to be resolved on how to ensure that the legal aid sector remains viable with ongoing investment by government at an appropriate level, yet the traineeship fund is a positive move and a move in the right direction. It is hugely important that the legal aid sector is not left behind and that it is an area of the law in which law graduates not only want to work but one in which they can thrive in the longer term. That is why we will be evaluating the impact of the fund on an ongoing basis. In will be important to assess its effectiveness at attracting trainees to the sector and retaining them as newly qualified solicitors.”