26 JanDIY lawyers after funding cuts
Legal aid cuts will leave more people representing themselves, but may also entice City firms to provide more pro bono services.
With £350m set to be cut from the legal aid budget in 2013, removing funding for areas such as divorce and housing cases, turning up to court without a lawyer will become increasingly more prevalent.
Judith March, director of the PSU, said there was a lot of enthusiasm among students to lend a hand. “When we advertised for assistance in Manchester recently we had 200 students from the local law schools turn up,” she recalled.
The other main source of assistance could be retired lawyers. The PSU already uses former lawyers regularly, and, having noted the widespread enthusiasm among retirees to keep ties with the profession, it is optimistic about getting more on board.
The growing number of unemployed lawyers could prove a useful resource, too. Most are keen to keep their hands in while they look for work; allowing them to keep their practising certificates and professional development requirements up to date.
Yet even with the engagement of these groups strengthened, there is unlikely to be enough help to go round.
What the system really needs, say pro bono charities, is law firms and chambers to step up their levels of involvement, and, in doing so, make pro bono a more formalised part of the system.
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