Share experience and expertise, find out about resources, projects and developments and signpost others to yours.
An issue that often crops up within the access to justice arena is how to effectively signpost and refer clients to other organisations. Many organisations have their own internal systems in place, but these referral systems allow organisations share an electronic referral system with other partners, such as advice agencies or local authorities.
Milk, Bread & Legal Advice? A fortnightly surgery in Tescos allows visitors to add free legal advice to their shopping list.
Although the much-hyped concept of ‘Tesco Law’ failed to gain much steam, Camilla Choudhury-Khawaja, director of legal consultancy The Women’s Lawyer, has created a different version of supermarket law by offering free legal advice in Tesco Extra, Watford.
(Author: Rebecca Scott, RCJ Advice) RCJ Advice recognises that there is a rising number of litigants in person within legal proceedings. We want to help and support the most vulnerable and those most in need. In order to widen our reach and help more people obtain access to justice, RCJ Advice have established a working relationship with Refuge.
A leader in public legal education, National Justice Museum Education delivers stimulating education programmes in real courtrooms across Nottingham, London and the North West, including at the Royal Courts of Justice and the Rolls Building in London. Based in Nottingham, the National Justice Museum owns the UK’s largest Collection relating to law, justice, crime and punishment. The City of Caves in Nottingham is also a part of the National Justice Museum and explores stories of social justice within the city’s historic sandstone caves.
Trustee Lisa Hilder talks about Affordable Justice, a women’s social enterprise in Hull whose ground-breaking legal service supports women to escape from violent and abusive relationships and allow them to rebuild their lives. Developed as a response to the decrease in availability of Legal Aid over the past few years, the not-for-profit service offers a full range of family law legal services and representation.
(Author: Mary Marvel, Head of Policy and Communications, Law for Life) Advicenow provide hand-selected, quality-checked links to the best information available for people going to a tribunal. It includes resources explaining employment tribunals, special educational needs, and asylum appeals, amongst others. Vitally for LiPs, we triage to partners providing legal advice, practical help, or representation with accurate information about where and how users can access further support.
The Advice Quality Standard - the quality mark for organisations providing advice on social welfare issues.
(Author: Lindsey Poole, Director at Advice Service Alliance) You might have heard people in the voluntary advice sector talk about the 'Advice Quality Standard' or AQS. But what is this thing and what does it tell you about the organisations who hold it?
At Exeter Combined Court Centre, a successful collaboration between PSU, LawWorks, the Bar Pro Bono Unit and local lawyers, has resulted in the opening of a family advice clinic in the court at Southernhay Gardens, for free legal help with private family (children) disputes, and non-molestation/occupation orders. The service will be available on the first Friday of each month, and there will be seven 30-minute appointment slots available, for initial advice in these family matters. To make an appointment, please call PSU Exeter on 01392 415335. PSU Exeter is always looking out for new volunteers: to discuss volunteering, please contact the Manager, Matt Bass, on the number above, or visit the PSU website, where you can complete a brief expression of interest form.
Lasa have a developed a series of web tools, all designed to support citizens' access to justice in relation to social welfare law issues. Each tool uses a postcode to find local and national resources in the area. They currently have nationwide tools for Social care, Council tax, Universal Credit, personal independence payment and work capability assessment. An additional tool, Advicelocal, is available in London and provides a borough-by-borough guide to legal information and support. Get the widgets: If you have a website or blog, you can grab one of their widgets to add to your site for your visitors to use for free.
Author: James Sandbach, Director of Policy and External Affairs, LawWorks. "About a month ago I was privileged to have a sneak preview of the “Beta” sites that HMCTS officials have been working as part of the Court modernisation programme to digitise much of the court process and administration. Justice Minister Oliver Heald brought officials along to the House of Commons for a private briefing of MPs, as the Prisons and Courts Bill was about to be launched in Parliament. Despite having been involved in much of the discussion about “Online Courts” since the Briggs Review and the subsequent Ministry of Justice paper on “Transforming our Justice System,” I wasn’t quite clear what to expect, but after the preliminaries about customer journeys and the political words about improving the justice system for everyone, we finally saw a demonstration of what the new processes will look like.
The Law Society helps people understand their rights and how the legal system works. Solicitors and education professionals require high quality resources that are accurate, relevant and engaging. In February 2016, the Law Society issued its guidance on public legal education for solicitors’ firms of all sizes, from high street practices to big city firms. It outlined the range of ways in which firms can provide PLE, from leaflets to local campaigns or workshops in schools, in prisons, and in youth or community groups. The guidance also makes the business case for providing public legal education and suggests firms approach the provision of this pro bono service strategically, consulting their community so that they are confident that they are meeting local needs.
The Law Society has recently produced new tools designed to help law firms and in-house teams develop the capacity and strategic presence of pro bono work to improve access to justice and meet unmet legal needs. The Law Society launched it’s Pro Bono Charter in November 2016. The Charter is a statement of commitment that firms and in-house teams can endorse and is a public commitment to support pro bono. It offers a great opportunity to highlight your law firm or organisation’s pro bono work. By signing the Statement of Commitment, your law firm or organisation is demonstrating its commitment to improving access to justice for those individuals and organisations who have legal needs and are ineligible for legal aid and unable to afford to pay for legal services.
The Law Society has recently produced new tools designed to help law firms and in-house teams develop the capacity and strategic presence of pro bono work to improve access to justice and meet unmet legal needs. The Pro Bono Manual sets out the steps legal practices may take in order to develop a strategic pro bono programme and includes template policies, engagement letters, memorandums of understanding as well as best practice guidance and information about strategic partners within the sector.
(Author: Laura Cassidy, Fundraising and Development Manager at the Access to Justice Foundation) Find out about the sponsored legal walks happening around the country and how you can get involved. Organised by Legal Support Trusts around the country, legal walks raise funds for free legal advice charities. If you are a charity that offers free legal advice or offers support to litigants in person (e.g PSU), you can 100% fundraise for your organisation.
(Author: Rebecca Scott, RCJ Advice) Since November 2015 RCJ Advice have delivered Time Together, our unique Child Contact Centre within the Central London Family Court. This is the only child contact facility within a court and we agreed to deliver this as we know from our legal work that often children are the innocent victims of parental disputes.
OpenJustice (hosted by OpenDemocracy) have recently published a series of articles focusing on the issues affecting people’s ability to seek a remedy through the courts: to stand up to bullies and protect themselves against the powerful. The series looks at why access to justice matters, the impact that the legal aid cuts have had and possible solutions to the access to justice crisis.
Here is an update from HMCTS which we received 28/03/2017: HM Courts and Tribunals service would like to keep you updated on our latest modernisation plans. This latest update is about piloting flexible operating hours in courts and tribunals.
(Author: Mary Marvel, Head of Policy and Communications, Law for Life) Writing good legal information is hard. Finding a way of communicating what the law says so that people with limited legal knowledge can not only understand, but use it, is very tricky.
The site is aimed at people who are involved in or may be involved in a case in the Family Court in this area (Bristol, Weston, Gloucester and Bath). It sets out the range of help that is available locally, and provides basic information about how the Family Court works. The site has been created by a group of family lawyers based in Bristol, however the information may be of relevance nationwide. Twitter @familycourtinfo.
Dr Jane Krishnadas explains the foundations of CLOCK, The Community Legal Outreach Collaboration, Keele. CLOCK was formed as an umbrella of professional public, private and third sector organisations, to develop a new role ‘the Community Legal Companion’, premised upon the McKenzie Friend principles, to safeguard the litigant- in-person’s rights to assistance and access to legally-aided and affordable legal services, within the shared commitment to access to justice.