YLAL Meetings

This page contains information about recent and upcoming YLAL meetings and events across the country. Our current upcoming events are as follows:

- Wednesday 18 October 2017: YLAL Midlands Becoming a Legal Aid Lawyer careers event at the University of Law in Birmingham.

- Wednesday 25 October 2017: YLAL North Advocacy from a Judicial Perspective & Insight into a Judicial Career at St John's Buildings Chambers in Sheffield. Please see the poster for further details.

- Wednesday 8 November 2017: YLAL North are hosting the Great Legal Quiz at Revolution, Sheffield. 

Please see below for full details of all upcoming events.

New members are welcome to come along to our meetings. Unless stated otherwise, there is no need to confirm your attendance - just turn up. There's no obligation to talk at the meetings - just come along and observe if you've never been to a meeting before and are nervous about speaking. On the other hand if you have lots to say, feel free to come along and say it!

London Meetings

We hold meetings in London on the second Wednesday at 6:30pmof every month. 

Our next meeting, 'Employment Tribunal Fees and the Right to Justice', will be on Wednesday 11 October 2017 at 6:30pm in the Draught Orders bar at Hodge Jones & Allen, 180 North Gower Street, Kings Cross, London, NW1 2NB. We are delighted to be joined by Karon Monaghan QC, who will speak about the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the Unison employment tribunal fees case. We will also discuss the final report of the Bach Commission on Access to Justice, 'The Right to Justice', which was published on 22 September 2017 and launched at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton.

The poster for the event is below and attendance is free - we look forward to seeing you there!

YLAL Midlands

Our next event in the Midlands will be a careers event in Birmingham on Wednesday 18 October 2017 from 6:30pm, Becoming a Legal Aid LawyerJoin us for a special event on careers in legal aid featuring expert speakers from the solicitors' profession, the bar and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).

YLAL co-chair Oliver Carter will begin by presenting an introduction to legal aid from the post-war welfare state to the present day, before our expert panel, featuring senior and junior legal aid lawyers, provide you with their insights into working in legal aid and advice on starting and progressing your career as a solicitor, barrister or legal executive.

The panel speakers will include:

  • Karen Bailey, principal solicitor at Bailey Wright & Co
  • David Swinnerton, barrister and deputy head of Cornwall Street Chambers
  • Sam Coe, criminal and family barrister at KCH Garden Square

Further speakers will be confirmed shortly. The poster for the event is below - if you would like to attend, please register via Eventbrite

For more information about YLAL Midlands or to get involved, follow YLAL Midlands on facebook and/or email ylalmidlands@gmail.com.

YLAL North

For more information or to get involved, join the YLAL North google group, follow YLAL North on facebook and/or email ylalnorth@gmail.com

On Tuesday 3 October 2017, YLAL in Manchester hosted an event on criminal law with Robert Stewart from Tranters Solicitors who spoke about life in the criminal courts as a higher court advocate; and Mark George QC, head of Garden Court North Chambers, who spoke about the impact of the Supreme Court case of Jogee on the law of joint enterprise. Many thanks to everyone who came! 

On Wednesday 25 October 2017 from 6pm, YLAL in Sheffield are having an event on advocacy and an overview of a career in the judiciary. His Honour Judge Robinson and District Judge Kelly will be delivering what will be a very interesting and insightful talk on how to be an effective advocate, as well as an overview of a career in the judiciary. For those who are interested, please sign up to register your attendance on Eventbrite. Numbers are limited.

On Wednesday 8 November 2017 from 6pm, YLAL Sheffield will be hosting the 'Great Legal Quiz' at Revolution (The Hidden Bar at Revolution, The Plaza, Units 1 &2, Fitzwilliam Street, Sheffield, S1 4JL). You can book on Eventbrite. Tickets are £5.00 - this includes a drink and canapes. The event is to raise funds for the Yorkshire Legal Support Trust, who support local advice agencies and charities. 


YLAL Liverpool's last event was 22 June 2017, at Exchange Chambers. 

YLAL seeks to represent YLALs from across all sectors, however we have a disproportionate number of members from the areas of civil legal aid. We are working to redress this balance nationally. This event was to hear from criminal lawyers on their experiences within criminal legal aid, the fight they have led against cuts to it and the reasons they continue to dedicate their professional lives to the sector.

We hosted Crime and Punishment? Criminal Legal Aid after LASPO 2012, with three fantastic speakers:

Zoe Gascoyne, Criminal solicitor and Partner at Quinn Melville. Zoe is also Chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors' Association (CLSA) which represents the interests of criminal lawyers across the UK. She has many years of experience in practice representing defendants in a wide variety of cases but she also has vast experiene of campaigning for justice and for legal aid as she stood at the forefront of campaigns against the cuts to criminal legal aid.

Peter Killen, Barrister at Exchange Chambers. Peter previously worked as a solicitor advocate. In 2007 he qualified as a Higher Courts Advocate and was called to the bar in 2015. He will be able to give members insight into an alternative route to the bar. He has acted as advocate for both defence and prosecution and has appeared at the court of appeal. 

Calum Whelan, Trainee solicitor, James Murray Solicitors. Calum is an accredited police station representative and now a trainee solicitor. He gave members insight into routes into criminal legal aid and described the difficulties facing junior lawyers in the sector at the present time.

Thanks to our speakers, and to the attendees.

For more information, follow YLAL Liverpool on facebook and/or email liverpoolylal@gmail.com

Please let us know if you can make it by emailing us ylalnorth@gmail.com or confirming you can attend on the Facebook event. There's a poster at the bottom of this page, feel free to circulate it. 


YLAL members Ronagh Craddock and Rachel Barnes are organising an introduction to legal aid meeting at Northumbria University. More details will be provided here and on the YLAL North facebook page and google group.

YLAL South West

Our latest event, Access to Justice Under Attack: Brexit, Charlie Gard and the Rule of Law was held on 12 October 2017 at Bristol Law Society. It took the form of a panel event and was chaired by Helen Law from Matrix Chambers, who did a fantastic job of tying together the key themes arising from the four talks, which all came at the issues from a different angle but demonstrated the inherent injustices in the current system.

Sian Pearce, Solicitor from Avon & Bristol Law Society, took us back to our roots with an introduction about Dicey and the Rule of Law, followed by a very interesting commentary on devolution and the government’s reluctance to relinquish control in certain areas such as social care, achieved through narrow definitions. She ended with a stark reminder that the British government is sovereign, by explaining how the Brexit Repeal Bill will effectively rewrite the devolution settlement overnight.

Mark Whitcombe, employment barrister from Oldsquare Chambers and junior Counsel in the landmark case of R (on the application of Unison) v Lord Chancellor [2017] UKSC 51, gave a first hand account of what is surely the most widely reported and constitutionally significant case of the year. Mark was instructed on behalf of the Equality and Human Rights Commission which intervened in respect of a judicial review by UNISON of employment tribunal fees that were acting as a barrier to tens of thousands of potentially meritous challenges each year.  He told of how, in framing the test as whether there was a “real risk” that the regime would prevent access to justice, the Supreme Court is potentially paving the way for challenges to similar unjust regimes in the future.

Next, we heard from our very own Lydia Andrews, family solicitor from WSP Solicitors who very kindly sponsored the event. Lydia recounted her own experience of two cases she was involved in, Re D [2015] EWFC 2 and GCC v A Mother & Ors [2017] EWFC B47, to demonstrate the harsh reality of the inequality of arms in cases where (often vulnerable) parents are facing losing their children to local authority care. In the two cases, the local authorities had a Care Order in place even though the children were living at home, and because of this, the local authorities were able to remove the children from their parents without making a further application to the Court. Tragically, there was no legal aid funding available to the parents because of a financial means test which denies funding to all but the poorest members of society, but fortunately for these parents, WSP Solicitors were prepared to take the cases on a Pro Bono Basis. The sad irony, that a father with significant disabilities had been denied funding to fight to keep his child because he had been determined to get a modestly paying job because he wanted to provide for his family, struck a chord with everyone in the room.

Emma Sutton, public law and Court of Protection barrister from No 5 Chambers, used the case of Charlie Gard to further illustrate the injustice caused when a financial means test denies parents the proper opportunity to fight to save their baby’s life. Sadly in this case, Charlie was beyond help, but who is to say that in another similar case, with parents who do not have the benefit of Pro Bono legal advice, a baby’s life that could have been saved wasn’t because the parents were not able to properly make their case due to lack of Legal Aid funding.

A thought provoking question and answer session followed, whereby the panel and audience discussed whether using language suggestive of making a value judgment on which types of cases “deserve” to be legally aided is unhelpful, and whether as lawyers and future lawyers we have a duty to refrain from acting Pro Bono and effectively “mopping up” some of these cases, in the interests of revealing the true extent of the issue.

We are grateful to our Chair and all of our speakers for their efforts inspiring a future generation of Young Legal Aid Lawyers to continue the fight for access to justice.