Secondary Specialisation

With the ripples from the legal aid, local authority and other cuts now spreading far and wide, LawWorks is joining the movement to find ways for pro bono to provide deeper and broader support to those seeking justice

The secondary specialisation programme enables pro bono solicitors from member law firms and in-house teams to support individuals beyond initial advice.

Developing expertise in areas of greatest need

LawWorks supports lawyers in member firms and in-house teams to develop expertise in areas of social welfare law, where need is significant and supply increasingly limited.

Those volunteering with the programme build up knowledge over time through structured training, supervision and mentoring provided by LawWorks. 

In-house legal team

LawWorks is growing its own in-house team, which includes specialists in a range of social welfare law. The team currently includes expertise in:

  • welfare benefits
  • employment
  • community care

The team is based in London and Bristol.

Projects

We have a series of projects which utilise in-depth pro bono training and supervision works to provide pro bono as effectively as possible in areas of need.

Welfare Benefits First-tier Tribunal Representation

Partners:  Advising Communities, Brent Sickle Cell & Thalassaemia Centre, Harlow Citizen's Advice Bureau, Toynbee Hall, and the Personal Support Unit

Our partners identify clients in need of representation at the First-tier Tribunal and refer to LawWorks for that stage.  We train pro bono lawyers who in pairs conduct end-to-end casework, taking the client through preparation and representing them at the tribunal hearing.  Where there is subsequently a need for representation at the Upper Tribunal, the client is signposted to a relevant provider.

Where cases highlight strategic issues, they may be referred to Child Poverty Action Group to be considered for judicial review as part of their strategic litigation programme.

Unpaid Wages Project

Partners: Camden Community Law Centre, Southwark Law Centre, Citizens' Advice Islington

Our partners identify individuals who have had unlawful deductions from wages, a growing trend known as "wage theft".  As with the welfare benefits project we assign unpaid wages cases to trained volunteer lawyers, who are supported and supervised by LawWorks' experienced in-house employment lawyer.  The volunteer lawyers conduct end-to-end casework, including tribunal representation and advocacy.

Community Care Law for the families of children with life-limiting conditions

Partners: Together for Short Lives

Building on our existing relationship with Together for Short Lives, we have developed a programme of legal support on commonly occurring problems. It is accessible to families through the hospice where their child is receiving treatment.

Connect Legal Advice Clinic – advice to homeless young people

The clinic provides pro bono legal advice to young people who are homeless or at risk of becoming so, and is collaboratively run by Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, Goldman Sachs International and Centrepoint.  Lawyers from Herbert Smith Freehills and Goldman Sachs provide advice in relation to housing, employment, consumer and civil liberties law through Centrepoint’s hostels remotely via videolink or telephone. LawWorks provides supervision for any housing benefit matters that are referred into the clinics. Where required, cases may be referred on to our Welfare Benefits project for tribunal representation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What sort of work would we be doing and how will LawWorks prepare us for it?

LawWorks will provide:

  • The necessary regulatory and insurance arrangements to conduct cases under the auspices of LawWorks, eg for in-house lawyers

  • An overview of the area of law for context

  • In-depth, targeted training on specific issues and procedures

  • Information about relevant legal resources, including case law, statute etc

  • Access to the supervising lawyer, who has relevant specialist expertise

  • Links to organisations with relelvant knowledge, such as Child Poverty Action Group, who are experts in Welfare Benefits, and Public Law Project, who have a programme dedicated to supporting clients through exceptional funding application

How does the process work?

  • Volunteers will begin by taking on cases relating to the specific elements they have received training in, and will have the option to progress through levels of training to enable engagement with more complex cases.

Who will supervise us and in whose name is the work being done?

  • Supervision will be provided by specialist social welfare lawyers, part of LawWorks' staff lawyer team, who will be on hand to assist the volunteers.
  • Volunteer lawyers form firms will have the option of carrying out the work in the name of their firm, or in the name of LawWorks. It will be for the firm or the individual lawyer to decide whether they want to meet the client in person, or to communicate remotely with the client.
  • Volunteers from in-house teams will be able to carry out the work under the auspices of LawWorks.

Why should we get involved?

  • This programme represents a dynamic means of addressing the fundamentally changed legal environment as it impacts the most vulnerable in our society. 

  • It is a unique opportunity to challenge yourself as a lawyer, putting into practice the principle of universal access to justice in support of the rule of law, and applying your skills in a challenging context. 

For further information on Secondary Specialisation please contact Matt: [email protected]