Building on the interest of LawWorks members in undertaking more ‘in depth’ pro bono, we are looking at further developing our secondary specialisation projects. Shared learning and collaboration is key to developing secondary specialisation. Following a forum last September, we will be holding further events about pro bono casework and representation projects. The forum, hosted by the Law Society and chaired by Christina Blacklaws (Law Society President and LawWorks’ Trustee), brought together a number of pro bono stakeholders to discuss and share experiences. Opening the discussion, Christina Blacklaws laid down a challenge to "scale up" pro bono ventures beyond initial advice into more specialist casework. There were presentations from three City law firms, a leading advocacy charity about different projects, and a presentation on the findings of an evaluation of LawWorks secondary specialisation projects.
Recent successes from LawWorks casework projects have included:
- Following tribunal representation by a LawWorks member firm, a vulnerable young woman with depression, drug and alcohol dependency issues, and a troubled mental health history was awarded the enhanced rate of Personal Independence Payment. After the hearing she told the pro bono solicitors it was the first day in several months she has felt able to smile.
- An agency refused to pay a care worker, who had given full notice, her last month of work. Pro bono solicitors successfully negotiated a settlement which avoided the case having to go to Tribunal. She was pleased and relieved to have avoided the stress of the Tribunal process in the lead up to Christmas.
- A grandfather gave up his job to become a full-time carer to his granddaughter Daisy, who had life-limiting medical conditions. He pleaded with his local council to rehouse the family who were living in a small two-bedroomed flat with damp, which was having a detrimental effect on his granddaughter’s health. Despite Daisy’s health problems, the council refused to accept the family’s priority for rehousing. A pro bono solicitor drafted an 18 page letter to the council setting out why Daisy and her family were inadequately housed. Within a few weeks, the family was offered a suitable new home.