Claiming Space is a social enterprise that has grown from peer support groups to offering innovative training for lawyers working with vulnerable populations, based on experience, academic study and research.
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 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 saw first-hand the effects of working with trauma in the legal profession. She was jointly responsible for the strategic direction of the group and for co-ordinating its campaigning, 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 is a qualified solicitor practicing in civil liberties and inquests. She now combines legal work with teaching yoga and meditation. She also works with a mental health charity to deliver specialist support and mental health awareness training. She recently completed a Master’s degree in psychology, researching secondary traumatic stress in the legal profession and is currently in training at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre.