Share experience and expertise, find out about resources, projects and developments and signpost others to yours.
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.
The LawWorks Clinics Programme provides support and assistance to free legal advice clinics, supported by volunteer lawyers. They are looking to looking to hear from people in the South East of England who are currently running a pro bono clinic or interested in developing a new clinic.
We are starting to create a signposting page with links for finding free legal advice around the UK. If you are aware of any websites we can add to this page please use the comment feature below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Litigant in Person Judicial Engagement Group provides the HMCTS Reform Programme with views from the advice and pro bono sectors in the development of the HMCTS reform programme. Here is a summary of the Group's meeting held on 23rd November 2016.
Students from the University of Bristol, the University of Law and the University of the West of England are holding information sessions for LIPs explaining the court procedure, what you can expect in court and what you need to do in preparation for the court hearing. The sessions run weekly at the Bristol Civil and Family Justice Centre and include a tour of the court.
The Lord Chancellor has announced that the LASPO review will commence shortly.
PLE resources available for use.
Citizenship Foundation’s latest blog explains the importance of triggering article 50 and why it is important for it to be explained in our schools.
Law for Life has worked with many organisations to provide training for intermediaries, informal advisers, or problem-noticers as to how to help the people they come into contact with deal with common legal problems.
Just a few pointers on where to get started when looking for funding, including how to write bids and possible sources of funding including open funding rounds.