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Working as a legal aid lawyer

Working as a legal aid lawyerLegal aid helps to bring legal help to those who can't afford it. Find out how you can get involved.

Legal aid is government-funded legal advice and representation for people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it. It is available in both civil and criminal cases, although in civil cases the problem must be severe to qualify.

Not all cases qualify for legal aid. For example, personal injury cases are normally handled using conditional fees instead. This means that focusing on legal aid work could restrict the kind of cases you can handle.

Legal aid lawyers can also be affected by changes in government policy. Changes to who qualifies for legal aid could affect how much you can earn or whether you can find work at all.

Most legal aid is provided through private law firms, paid for by the government. These firms don't have to be specialist legal aid firms, but many are, and a lot of non-specialist firms don't take legal aid work.

With this kind of legal aid work, the main difference is how you get paid. Each person who requires legal aid has to apply, so you may spend more of your time on paperwork than in other jobs.

Public Defenders

Public defenders are employed directly by the Legal Aid Agency to help people when they have been arrested and represent them in court if necessary. They work only in criminal defence.

The PDS is small compared to the private legal sector. Currently, there are offices in Cheltenham, Darlington, Pontypridd, and Swansea. There may be fewer jobs available, especially if you are looking for work in other parts of England and Wales.