YLAL COVID-19 Report
On 7 April 2020, Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) published an important report on the impact of COVID-19 on its members’ professional lives. The report analyses survey data collected from more than 300 YLAL members between 26 March- 03 April 2020.
Key findings include:
More than 45% of members are either ‘extremely’ or ‘quite’ worried about their job security.
25% of members are required to attend court in person.
25% of members are required to put themselves at risk of infection because of their job. This includes attending police station interviews and face-to-face meetings with clients.
67.5% stated that their volume of work had ‘decreased’, ‘significantly decreased’ or been ‘decimated’.
80% of junior legal barristers reported that their workloads had ‘significantly decreased’ or been ‘decimated’ by the crisis. One barrister noted that COVID-19 was having a ‘devastating’ financial impact as their ‘income had completely stopped overnight’.
The report also highlights examples of best practice that YLAL encourages employers and chambers to consider adopting.
Key recommendations include:
The Legal Aid Agency should take urgent action to ensure the financial viability of providers. This should include continuing to make regular payments to providers based on their usual legal aid income.
There should be a consistent approach to social distancing and hygiene in courts and police stations, including proper implementation of the LCCSA Interview Protocol.
The Council of the Inns of Court should take steps to ensure a coordinated approach between Inns of Court to ensure that the most junior legal aid barristers do not experience financial hardship.
The Bar Standards Board should remove its agreement for chambers to vary pupillage awards that have already been advertised.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority should confirm that training contract periods will not be extended if a trainee has sufficient experience to qualify.
We recognise that this an extremely difficult situation. However, it is essential that all stakeholders adopt a transparent and collaborative approach to decision making that takes into account the specific concerns of junior legal aid lawyers.
The full report can be found here.
For questions about the report or media enquiries, please email email@example.com
Young Legal Aid Lawyers
07 April 2020