Tag Archives: LAG

Major concession on legal aid bill?

The Mirror reports that the government “is ditching plans to cut legal aid in medical negligence cases”. While that would be a welcome move – and perhaps not unexpected; clinical negligence and domestic violence being at the top of most predictions of likely concessions – the Gazette is reporting that the Ministry of Justice is neither confirming nor denying the report and there has certainly been no official announcement. LAG speculates that it is likely that there will be such a concession, but that it has leaked rather earlier than the government would have liked.

Whatever the true position, it does seem certain that the legal aid bill is in for a much less smooth passage through the Lords than the Commons, having been heavily criticised by all speakers except the minister at second reading earlier in the week. When there are confirmed changes, we will bring them to you.

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The e-Handbook

With thanks to our excellent publishers, Legal Action Group, the Handbook is now available as an e-book for download to your Kindle, iPad or other portable device. Now you need never be without it. Click here to download your copy.

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Legal Action Group appeals for funds

Our excellent publisher, the Legal Action Group, has experienced considerable disruption in recent weeks following an arson attack on their neighbour which damaged the LAG offices. As a result, they are appealing for members and for funds. More information on this letter (PDF) from the Chair of LAG. As well as membership, book sales, training bookings and subscriptions to Legal Action will all help.

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The sound of silence – news and announcements week ending 17th June

Another week of speculation, rumour and unease has passed without an announcement from the government on legal aid reform. The most that they have said publicly is “shortly”, by the Leader of the House in the Commons yesterday, but Sound off for Justice believe it will be next week. We shall see. LAG speculates that the ground has been laid by the release of the highest legal aid earners list, and rightly goes on to point out that they are in no way typical of the earnings of legal aid practitioners. One consequence of the coalition government’s drive towards openness is that all government departments now publish every transaction over £25,000, and therefore for the first time there is regularly updated information in the public domain showing what payments are made from the legal aid fund, to the larger providers at least.

The very largest providers, those taking over £2million from the legal aid fund, were invited to meetings in London and Sheffield last month. Those meetings caused considerable controversy among those not invited and the representative bodies (and were also the source of Carolyn Downs’s reported remarks predicting that the legal aid reforms would be affected by the sentencing row, thankfully since denied by Ken Clarke). The LSC has now published on its website its version of proceedings, along with the slides of presentations various officials made. Seemingly as a direct result of the row, it has also resurrected Provider Reference Groups, and providers have begun receiving invitations to meetings over the summer. Details are available on the LSC website.

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Handbook Launched

The official launch of the Handbook took place last night at the College of Law. The launch followed a debate on the future of legal aid where the speakers included Steve Hynes, director of the Legal Action Group, Des Hudson, chief executive of the Law Society, Carolyn Downes, chief executive of the Legal Services Commission, and Andy Slaughter MP, shadow justice minister. Many good points were raised by the speakers and from the floor by practitioners and students alike, focussing on the impact on clients and on access to justice of the government’s proposed cuts. The debate was the conclusion of the College’s legal practice course public legal services pathway and it was refreshing to see so many students present and committed, despite all they heard in the debate, to working in legal aid and to helping those who depend on legal aid to get justice.

Our thanks to LAG for organising the launch and to the College and its students for their hospitality.

You can buy the handbook from the LAG website by clicking on the image of the front cover at the top of the page.

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Bring back the picnic table?

legal aid logo

Interesting post yesterday from the Legal Action Group blog recalling the old legal aid picnic table logo, which was officially dropped more than a decade ago and yet is still perhaps the most familiar image associated with legal aid.

The LSC itself resurrected it – or a version of it – for the 60th anniversary two years ago. As LAG points out, the term “legal aid” itself was officially dropped when the Access to Justice Act 1999 came in, yet the attempted rebranding (CLS / CDS or just “public funding”) never caught on and the government and LSC quietly went back to referring to legal aid after a couple of years. For the profession and public, the term “legal aid” never went away. It may be over 60 years old*, but as a piece of branding summing up what we do, it has never been bettered. And neither has the logo – so, yes, bring back the picnic table.

*As an aside, there is an interesting quote from the Modern Law Review of 1950, in an article considering the passage of the 1949 Legal Aid and Advice Act, and its subsequent rather limited implementation. “The profession can take pride in the part in which it has played in a useful piece of social and legal reform. Unhappily, it seems the Act is to be one of the victims of the economy axe”  has a certain contemporary resonance.

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The new handbook – coming soon…

The LAG Legal Aid Handbook launches at the College of Law’s legal aid debate on 17th May 2011. Pre-order your copy now or see some of the reviews of the last edition here.

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