The Pro Bono Committee at Duncan Lewis works closely with LawWorks – who are the Solicitors Pro Bono Group. Our Tuesday Free Drop In Session at Dalston is part of the national network of LawWorks Legal Clinics, we contribute answers to legal enquiries via their Free Law Direct programme.
LawWorks is a large established charity which aims to provide free legal help to individuals and community groups who cannot afford to pay for it and who are unable to access legal aid. LawWorks work with just under 100 member law firms and teams of in-house counsel, as well as mediators, law students and solicitors who have been made redundant involving them all in pro bono work.
The Pro Bono Committee at Duncan Lewis were approached, soon after the legal aid changes in April 2013, and invited to provide a training seminar, on the impact of LASPO, to the delegates of LawWorks at their Chancery Lane offices.
LASPO has had a profoundly significant impact on the scope of legal aid. It repeals the Access to Justice Act 1999, in so far as it deals with legal aid and establishes an entirely new statutory regime. It is no wonder LawWorks require specialist advice about LASPO since the boundaries of what is and is not in scope for legal aid has been altered. The boundaries for what is no longer in scope for legal aid means there will be greater demand on Pro Bono Advice sought through LawWorks
Part 1 of the act paves the way for cuts to the scope of and eligibility for legal aid;
Part 2 reforms conditional fee agreements. It abolishes the recoverability of success fees and associated costs in conditional fee agreements.
Part 3 of the act deals with sentencing reform, creating a new offence of threatening people with a knife in public or at schools and causing injury by driving dangerously. It also criminalises squatting.
The act removes legal aid for wide areas of law including most private family law, welfare benefits law, clinical negligence, education and employment.
Erol Izzet and Shafia Khanam from the Pro Bono Committee attended the LawWorks offices in Chancery Lane on 26 June 2013 and provided training to 25 delegates. The training was well received and LawWorks were impressed with both the quality & content of the presentation. They have since shown interest in more training sessions to be provided by Duncan Lew Solicitors.
In response we agreed to become a partner organisation and provide training as part of the LawWorks training program. Erol Izzet and Emine Mehmet, Director of Family & Child Care delivered a ‘Legal Aid post LASPO’ training seminar on 9th October 2013. This training was attended by LawWorks member firms, volunteers from member clinics and individual supporters. The sessions will be free. It is hoped that the training will give advisers in pro bono clinics the confidence to advise what is and what is not in scope for Legal Aid.
Should anyone be interested in Pro Bono work or in suggesting ways in which we can reach out to groups or organisations about providing advice & assistance please contact Probonocommittee@duncanlewis.com.