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Latest 18 May 2024

Lawyers Who Care to unlock new legal talent

Lawyers Who Care

UK group launches mission to help care-experienced people fulfil their dreams of a career in the legal profession.

People who have experienced the care system and want to become lawyers have a new champion, with the launch of Lawyers Who Care (LWC).

LWC is the first legal-specialised organisation in the UK to offer long-term mentoring and opportunities for paid work experience to people with care experience who dream of being a lawyer.

Founded by Lucy Barnes, a care-experienced future pupil barrister at East Anglian Chambers, and Garden Court Chambers’ Kate Aubrey-Johnson, the organisation aims to break down the barriers Lucy faced when she entered the legal profession.

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As someone who was placed into foster care at 13, Lucy knows well how an experience of care can raise difficulties and challenges.

“I did not have parental support, social capital, access to networking or financial assistance to support myself when undertaking unpaid work experience,” Lucy said. “Furthermore, people make assumptions about us and fail to see us holistically as people who can bring unique skills and talents to the table. I want LWC to erase the stigma associated with being care experienced and show that we can be lawyers too.”

Kate Aubrey-Johnson, a youth specialist barrister who co-wrote a guide for criminal lawyers representing care-experienced young people, said that she helped to found LWC “because every young person deserves the chance to pursue their dreams”.

“The legal profession will be strengthened by the skills, talents and the diverse experience of care-experienced people,” Aubrey-Johnson said. “We need to champion this talent and create a supportive community to nurture their potential and break down the stigma and structural barriers to them achieving career success.”

LWC puts the voices of people who have experienced care at its heart. Alongside Lucy, the organisation is led by Chief Operations Officer Gemma Creamer – who has also experienced care – as well as a steering committee of care-experienced aspiring lawyers. LWC is guided by an advisory committee of solicitors, barristers and care-experienced professionals, and is championed by Sir Andrew McFarlane, Paul Bowen KC and Kama Melly KC.

As president of the High Court’s Family Division, McFarlane explained he was “particularly aware of the difficulties that young care leavers experience”.

“I am therefore particularly keen to encourage those who wish to practise law by supporting LWC in its work,” he said.

LWC launched in collaboration with Care Leavers and is supported by the Segelman Trust. Founding members include Garden Court Chambers, Blackstone Chambers, East Anglian Chambers, Oliver Fisher Solicitors, 3 Verulam Buildings Chambers, Spire Chambers and Dawson Cornwell LLP. Member organisations gain exclusive access to specialist care-aware and trauma-informed training, webinars and support, alongside other benefits.

By empowering young people who have experienced care and helping them believe in themselves, Lucy hopes to unlock their skills and strengths.

“When one care-experienced person rises,” she said, “we all rise.”