I was drawn to social justice work as a career choice due to my background as an adoptee, in addition to work experience I had undertaken at the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’s office when I was 16 years old. I have a passion for helping others and I wish to contribute significantly to a better society for children.

Whilst studying my masters and legal practice course at Swansea, I secured an internship with the Children’s Legal Centre Wales. It was during this internship that I noticed the Justice First Fellowship (JFF) advertised. The JFF is a two-year trainee solicitor programme.  I saw this as an incredible opportunity to start my career in social justice law and children’s rights, with the added hope of contributing to capacity for child’s rights litigation in Wales.

All JFF’S are tasked during their two-year training contract to run a project aimed at increasing access to justice. I chose to focus on the establishment of Wales’s first initial advice service focusing on all matters related to education and Additional Learning Needs. I have worked with numerous legal firms, organisations and services that specialise in these matters, to come to an agreement as to the scope of the service that the CLC will offer prospective clients. As the current JFF, I will be spearheading this service – as will future JFFs.

I feel privileged to be able to be a part of the establishment of such a service, particularly as there is a high demand for legal help in these areas.

It gives me great satisfaction that as a JFF I am able to do meaningful work that has a real impact on children’s lives. I also feel lucky that this role became available, for the first time, when I began my legal career. Prior to this, I was not at all hopeful that I would find a role as a legal professional that would fulfil my desire to help others.

During my time as a JFF, I have had the opportunity to rotate my placements (a trainee solicitor is required to undertake a number of ‘seats’ or placements as part of their training).  I was able to spend time at different organisations and law firms including Cameron, Jones, Hussell and Howe, Watkins and Gunn and KIN Cymru. Although I enjoyed and learned from all my placements, my favourite placement was the time I spent with the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, who at the time was Sally Holland. It felt as though I made it full circle – back to the organisation which solidified my passion for children’s rights. Sally was the commissioner when I undertook work experience as a 16-year-old. The placement was an opportunity for me to reflect on my growth and development since the last time I had been there. My time at the office was memorable and each day different. It allowed me to have different experiences, experiences which differed from my time with law firms e.g. writing consultation responses, participation events and so forth.

I have been able to take inspiration from the people I have worked with – which is an extensive list of professional and experienced experts in children’s rights– that I am grateful I met and was able to learn from. This breadth of learning is something not many trainee solicitors have the opportunity to experience. I have also had the good fortune to benefit from great mentors and supervisors, not only while on placements and at the Children’s Legal Centre (where I was based as a JFF), but also with the Legal Education Foundation (LEF) who sponsor the JFF scheme. LEF has taken great care to ensure all JFF’s have access to resources and contacts to help their career and personal development. For my project I was able to gain 1:1 support and advice from Shauneen Lambe (the executive director of Just for Kids Law, whilst also working as a barrister in the UK), which helped me develop the proposal for an advice service based at the CLC. This type of support and willingness to help, I feel, reflects well on LEF and certainly contributed to enabled me feeling comfortable and competent in my role.  For example, the ‘residential weekend’ organised by LEF for all current and past JFFs to come together to discuss and compare our experiences. There were also opportunities for training in different areas, such as grant applications etc. The residential was a great opportunity to be amongst like-minded individuals, who are also specialising in social justice, particularly as we are scattered across the UK.

Children are the most vulnerable group within our society. I feel privileged to be able to say that I am now part of a community of people striving to meet their needs for legal services, support and advocacy. I would not have been able to do it without LEF or my host organisation CLC Wales.

I can’t wait to continue to develop my career further!