Rachel and Joanna met while on the committee of Young Legal Aid Lawyers. Following many conversations with peers and colleagues about the impact of our clients’ stories on our well-being and those around us, we began working on a project to make space to learn, share and reflect on our practice.

Claiming Space is the product of our years working in legal aid law and speaking to junior lawyers from across the spectrum of social justice legal practice.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable in society are helped by lawyers who are well-supported to deal with stress, vicarious trauma and burnout.

We are committed to making legal aid and social justice work sustainable and open to people of all backgrounds, so that our clients get the best representation possible. Claiming Space is a Community Interest Company, which means we do not operate for profit and what we generate goes back into the work and community we work with. 

Rachel Francis

Rachel is a barrister practising in immigration and family law. She is the former co-chair of Young Legal Aid Lawyers. During her time as co-chair, Rachel was jointly responsible for the strategic direction of the group and for co-ordinating its activities campaigning against legal aid cuts, promoting social mobility and protecting the interests of junior lawyers who believe in the importance of legally-aided work as a means of achieving social justice.

Rachel formerly worked as a youth worker, in a refugee centre, and has delivered training to children and young people on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in the Philippines.

Joanna Fleck

Joanna has spent over 8 years working in legal aid law, qualifying as a solicitor in 2014. She now combines legal work with teaching yoga and meditation.  She runs a project at a mental health charity supporting people with mental health difficulties into sport and physical activity,

She recently completed a Master’s degree in psychology, researching secondary traumatic stress in the legal profession, and is particularly interested in the intersection between mental health, physical health, and social justice.