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Value of pro bono family law advice highlighted

The need for family lawyers has made pro bono clinics recruit more volunteers for legal advice and representation provided by lawyers.

Pro bono volunteering includes advice or representation for individuals, charities and community groups who cannot afford to pay for it and where public and alternative means of funding are not available.

In May last year, UK lawyers’ pro bono legal support for people affected by crises such as those in Afghanistan and Ukraine was praised by Pro Bono Week’s organisers.

The Law Society reported that Islington, St James and East Greenwich and Dads House legal advice centres, which are part of the LawWorks network, held an event at Coram Chambers to raise awareness about volunteering in family law, where High Court judge Sir David Williams gave a speech later shared with the Gazette.

Williams said:

“I know from the work I do as family division liaison judge for the south eastern circuit how much of the work of magistrates, district and circuit bench involves litigants in person – and I know how much they appreciate it when pro bono representation rides to the rescue.

Even if they lose the case, the value in ensuring their voice was heard is really important for them.”

Speaking to the Gazette after the event, solicitors Kate Buchanan and Kate Brett, who volunteer at Islington Legal Advice Centre, said national firm Duncan Lewis had “offered to be an ‘overspill’ clinic for a few hours once a month”.

Buchanan urged more family law specialists to volunteer and said “please help if you can. Even half an hour will make a massive difference to someone’s life”.

Brett added:

“Half an hour could see someone leave the clinic feeling a bit less scared.”

The latest government statistics revealed the extension of access to legal aid for vulnerable groups including domestic abuse victims and children.

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