Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) is committed to supporting our members to build and maintain sustainable careers in the legal aid sector.
On this page, you will find:
- General guide to volunteering and work experience
- Volunteering opportunities with YLAL
General guide to volunteering and work experience
Unfortunately, even entry level and low paid work in legal aid often requires prior work experience, and due to the bottlenecks in the system you may find yourself competing with candidates that have worked for a number of years.
If you are still a student, you have the chance to start getting relevant experience at an early stage. Take advantage of student opportunities such as law clinics, miscarriage of justice projects and Amnesty International student groups. If your university does not offer this, consider setting up something yourself - and check if there are funds available to support that.
Internships and volunteering are good CV builders but can be difficult to access for those who have caring responsibilities or need to work to fund their studies. Look out for:
- Funded/expenses paid internships
- Evening/part time opportunities - law centres/university law clinics often offer flexible hours that you could fit around other commitments.
- Bursaries e.g. the Human Rights Lawyers Association, Inns of Court internships, university study/internship scholarships for the academic holidays
- Paid roles e.g. legal assistant to a barrister, paralegal in a law firm, county court advocate
- Remote volunteering e.g. writing articles for legal oriented websites like the Justice Gap, the Student Lawyer or joining one of YLAL’s sub-groups
Also if you see somewhere asking for 4 days a week for 3 months, go to them and ask if there is any possibility they can be flexible and accommodate your constraints - can you offer them 1 day a week for a year, for example.
One good tip for aspiring barristers, if you are not sure where to look for volunteering opportunities, is to check the profiles of junior barristers at chambers that you want to apply for - they will often mention different schemes they have done. LinkedIn profiles of other junior lawyers may do the same.
Organisations to keep an eye on
In general, organisations that may offer opportunities include:
(YLAL is not affiliated with these organisations)
- Multiple locations: Bar Human Rights Committee, Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), law centres (see Law Centres Network list), university law clinics, Amicus, Appropriate Adult, City of Sanctuary, Independent Custody Visitor, Independent Mental Capacity Advocate, Independent Parental Special Education Advice, Magistrates, National Centre for Domestic Violence, National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), Support Through Court, Refugee Action, Shelter, Streetlaw
- Leeds/Bradford: Bradford Women’s Aid, Manual Bravo Project, Palm Cove Society, Solace
- Liverpool: Merseyside Law Centre, Vauxhall Community Law and Information Centre
- London: Free Representation Unit, Reprieve, Justice, Liberty, Privacy International, Amnesty International, Minority Rights Group International, ATLEU, Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), Article 19, Redress, Fair Trials international, Howard League for Penal Reform, The Prisoners’ Advice Service, African Prisons Project, Release
- Manchester: Greater Manchester Law Centre, Manchester/Bolton/Rochdale CABs, Urban Lawyers North, ASHA
- Newcastle: Families in Care
- Sheffield: Ashiana Sheffield, ASSIST Sheffield, City Hearts
If you know of other organisations which you feel should be added to this list, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteering with YLAL
YLAL has a number of volunteering opportunities for reliable, committed individuals to gain valuable experience and help further YLAL's objectives.
We are always keen to find ways to support our members. If you have any thoughts or ideas, please get in touch.
Current volunteering opportunities
You do not need previous experience to volunteer with YLAL. The only thing we ask from our volunteers is that they are reliable, enthusiastic and willing to learn.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, all YLAL volunteering opportunities are remote and can be undertaken flexibly in line with volunteers' needs and commitments.
The suggested time commitment for each role is in brackets.
If you are interested in any of the roles or tasks listed below, please email us with the name of the task/role in the subject line and a little bit about yourself. There is no need to send a CV.
- Legal Aid News (writer): YLAL volunteers draft monthly summaries of the latest legal aid and access to justice news. You can find an example here. (1 day per month)
- Legal Aid News (editor): YLAL volunteers proofread and edit monthly Legal Aid News summaries ready for publication on the website. This role is perfect for individuals with a keen eye for detail and an interest in legal journalism. Previous experience is welcome but not essential. (3-4 hours per month)
- Meeting minutes: YLAL volunteers draft minutes from our meetings for publication on our website. (1-2 hours)
- Jobs volunteers: YLAL volunteers are given a two-week stint and help us with the administration of the jobs & opps page by updating it with job adverts sent to us by employers. We use a content management system to do this and full training is given. (2-3 hours per week for 2 weeks)
- YLAL blogs: YLAL is always looking for original content to publish on the website. YLAL volunteers can write contributions for our existing blogs: Thanks to Legal Aid and Young Legal Aid Life (including a day in the life of a Legal Aid student). (hours will vary according to the size and content of the piece)