Great piece by Carol Storer on the aftermath of LASPO in Legal Voice
"Anger and pride Posted by Carol Storer in Blog, LALYs on April 16, 2012 2:44 pm / no comments
800 words for a blog on legal aid? Where should I start? Cuts? Government attacks on legal aid? The bureaucracy facing legal aid lawyers? The appalling difficulties for those with limited finances in becoming a lawyer? These are all issues of great concern but perhaps I could write this time about the enormous importance of legal aid work and legal aid practitioners.
Anger and pride Let’s first of all be clear. Practitioners do ask me how I can bear to keep on doing this job and generally I try to be careful about how I reply. But in reality it is a mixture of anger and pride. Not my pride but pride in supporting those delivering legal aid services. I am angry when I see the government attack legal aid knowing that their attacks are incorrect or based on no evidence. When the government uses sloppy phrases about a litigation culture which ignores the fact that research shows cases are declining. When the government talks about unmeritorious legal aid cases when it knows full well that there are checks and balances in place. It annoys me to see a positive story about legal aid and the next day blanket coverage of an unpopular story – no doubts about where that came from. I am angry at how much time is wasted. Legal aid lawyers are professionals who have to give a quality level of service or face considerable consequences. Complaints, fines, disciplinary findings. It is difficult to navigate professional obligations when payment is often low. However the unpaid time involved in meeting contract standards makes me want to weep. If all that non-chargeable time of dealing with the intricacies of the system could be simplified, I suspect that every organisation delivering services could probably help another 276,000 people a year – that’s based on one person in each of the 3000 offices seeing two extra people a week over a 46 week year. But balanced against this anger is pride in representing members. They are knowledgeable, hard-working, compassionate and even when they are at their wit’s end they send emails brimming with humanity and intelligence. ......................"