The Law Society of Ireland has announced its 2021 Small Practice Traineeship Grant scheme worth a total of €125,000 to assist with the cost of employing a trainee solicitor and boost smaller solicitor practices in rural Ireland. Smaller solicitor practices based outside of the main urban districts of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway are encouraged to apply before the deadline on 2 July 2021.
Now in its second year, the Law Society will award five grants of €25,000 each. This includes funding of €18,000 to the training firm over the course of the two-year training contract, and funding of €7,000 to the trainee solicitor by way of a discount on the Professional Practice Course I (PPC I) fee.
Chairperson of the Law Society Education Committee, Richard Hammond S.C., said, “The Law Society is pleased to announce five grants worth a total of €125,000 to assist smaller practices in rural Ireland with the cost of employing a trainee solicitor. This can make a real difference to a rural practice’s ability to continue to provide a much-needed service and trusted expert advice to support businesses and residents in their local community. We are particularly encouraged by the feedback received from grant recipients in our 2020 round, the inaugural year of the scheme, with positive impacts shown for both firms and trainees.”
Training opportunities in Donegal
Jason Laverty, a Donegal native and trainee solicitor at Browne and Co Solicitors in Letterkenny, received the grant in 2020. He said, “The Small Practice Traineeship Grant meant I could initiate my traineeship without the worry of fees, which was a huge weight off my mind. Since I am on the PPC Hybrid course, I can complete my traineeship 20 minutes from home instead of spending extended periods in Dublin. I’m a home bird so this was a key factor for me when applying for the grant.”
“My training firm was always supportive of me completing the course and were delighted with the grant to help towards the cost of employing me. For anyone interested, I would highly recommend applying. The grant could help keep you near home to complete your traineeship and your local solicitor’s practice will undoubtedly welcome the additional pair of hands in the office. The benefits of this Law Society initiative for both trainees and practices in rural communities cannot be emphasised enough,” he said.
Increasing access in the West
Donna Ferry was successful in the 2020 grant round and is now a trainee solicitor with Phelim O’Neill Solicitors in Co. Roscommon, the first trainee solicitor in the history of the practice. Ms Ferry said, “This grant gave me the opportunity to live in a small community without having to relocate to Dublin, which was always the goal. I now live in Carrick-on-Shannon, where rent prices are extremely affordable, and I am just a two-hour drive from my hometown.”
“I began the PPC Hybrid course stress free as the grant covered €7,000 of my PPC I fees and it means I can work continuously throughout my two-year traineeship without taking long breaks to attend the Law Society in Dublin. This grant is a great incentive for solicitors to reach out and seek a trainee to boost their firm. Trainees can bring new life and ideas and this grant from the Law Society provides great financial support and opportunities to small firms in communities across Ireland.”
Ms Ferry offered the following advice for prospective grant applicants: “Don’t fear voicing the idea of the Small Practice Traineeship Grant. It adds an extra element to your CV and may just secure that much needed traineeship. The application form is short and simple, and I could not believe my luck when I found out I was selected as one of the five recipients in 2020.”
“The Small Practice Traineeship Grant scheme marks continued progress of the Law Society’s commitment to improving gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the solicitors’ profession. We encourage all eligible smaller firms and sole practitioners in rural communities to apply before the 2 July deadline,” Mr Hammond concluded.