Pro bono client: "can I get legal aid to help me with this?";
Me: *furiously scrolling away on my phone to find the answer* "Errr...."
There are a huge number of solicitors across the UK who use their evenings, lunchtimes and weekends to advise clients on a pro bono basis, typically within a clinic setting. Very often, these lawyers work for law firms that do not undertake legal aid work and advising on the question above can be particularly tricky.
The Law Society has published a very useful and simple guide for solicitors who offer pro bono services, but who are not specialists in legal aid. Lawyers and law firms across the UK provide thousands of hours of free legal advice to the public to try to plug the access to justice gap. This guide is essential reading that could help direct eligible members of the public to the justice they deserve.
However, the guidance helps illuminate the harsh reality that many people on low incomes will be ineligible for legal aid and reliant on pro bono services to obtain access for justice. The number of people receiving legal aid has fallen more than 80% in eight years. This create a clear false economy as the court services strain to deal with challenges of huge numbers of unrepresented litigants. The current situation led to Baroness Hale last month appealing for donations to the pro bono advice service - the Personal Support Unit.
Capsticks supports the Pro Bono charity, the South West London Law Centres , in providing pro bono legal advice to the South West London community every Tuesday evening from the Wimbledon Guild in matters involving general litigation and employment law issues.
Legal aid is important for providing equal access to justice for people who need legal help but cannot afford to pay for it. This guide is for solicitors who offer pro bono services but who are not specialists in legal aid...