Earlier this year, Hogan Lovells together with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pro Bono, which LawWorks support as its secretariat, published a significant report – called ‘Mind the Gap’ - into casework dealt with in MPs surgeries. It found that from the surgeries visited, a staggering 89.5% of problems brought to MPs involved legal or access to justice issues, among them 37% housing issues, 23% immigration issues, and 13% welfare issues. One of the key recommendations was a need for bespoke training for caseworkers on spotting and referring legal problems.
Building on our expertise in delivery training on social welfare law issues, LawWorks have joined forces with the Legal Aid Practitioners Group (LAPG) who support the APPG on Legal Aid, to put together a training package for MPs caseworkers and staff.
Working with others, including Law for Life and Southwark Law Centre, the training programme is covering:
- Identifying legal issues in casework
- Legal Aid – what’s in scope
- Housing and Welfare Rights Law
Further sessions may also cover Immigration law and Disability/Equalities Law. A reception event was held in Portcullis House with MPs and their staff to launch the programme, and bring MPs offices in contact with advice sector organisations.
LawWorks successfully piloted a “Spotting Legal Issues” session with David Lock QC, a former MP now practising with Landmark Chambers, as the trainer. The training course focussed on:-
A twin-track approach to problem solving: Legal solutions to constituents’ problems working alongside political solutions - referrals can be made in parallel with MPs actions.
Promoting MPs as effective problem solvers: identifying and using public law redress channels, in addition to any political action taken by MPs, enhances the service provided to constituents. Local referral agencies and legal advice: providing the knowledge and skills for making effective referrals.