The Scottish Government fund set up to support legal aid traineeships has been oversubscribed less than 24 hours after opening to applications.
Managed for the Government by the Law Society of Scotland, the £1 million fund was set up as part of the support package for legal aid firms. Firms have complained among other things of being unable to afford to take on a trainee solicitor, which puts at risk the future of the profession in areas such as criminal defence.
Providing half the salary and other costs of employing a trainee, the fund opened on Thursday, and by Friday morning the Society had received applications for more than the maximum 40 places that the fund is designed to support. As funding is being allocated on a first come first served basis, later applications, including any still to be made, are being put on a waiting list while eligibility of the first applicants is assessed.
The Society has said that it may be that some applicants either pull out of the process or do not meet the criteria, therefore it will keep applications open beyond the first 40 in order to allow a waiting list. If one of the first 40 places falls through, the first on the waiting list will be offered funding.
In addition, to ensure that the maximum number of organisations can benefit, those seeking more than one funded traineeship may be required to wait for approval of a second or further traineeship.
Firms will be contacted on the placing and progress of their applications.