Legal profession braces itself for a surge in DIY lawyers after funding cuts
Wednesday 9th November 2011
Legal aid cuts will leave more people representing themselves, but may also make City firms pull their weight with pro bono work.
People who represent themselves in court have long been regarded by the legal profession with disdain. With their patchy knowledge of legal procedures and disregard for conventions they've never even heard of, litigants-in-person tend to disrupt an otherwise relatively smoothly running system, say lawyers and judges.
But with £350m set to be lopped off the legal aid budget in 2013, removing funding for areas such as divorce and housing cases, turning up to court without a brief is about to become a lot more common.
A report on litigants-in-person to be published on Friday acknowledges this, setting out measures for minimising the chaos that will be caused by the coming surge of "DIY lawyers".
Speaking on Monday at the launch of National Pro Bono Week, the master of the rolls, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, praised the report's authors for making the best of a bad job. His gloominess gave a sense of the collective dread the profession is feeling as it prepares for an era of graduates of the "University of John Grisham".