It’s #ProBonoWeek! This week we are celebrating lawyers giving free legal advice.
Pro Bono work plays an essential role in helping vulnerable members of our community have access to legal help when most in need.
Citizens Advice 1066 are developing a model which would lead to offering free law clinics in Hastings and Rother.
With the cost of legal services still so high and beyond the reach of many, the project aims to offer the Hastings community, access to basic legal advice which would enable them to make better informed decisions affecting key parts of their lives.
Steven Travers, former Solicitor and volunteer Adviser at Citizens Advice 1066 in Hastings says:
“Hastings is one of the 20% most deprived districts/unitary authorities in England, with 22.2% (20,023 people) affected by income deprivation. Many of our clients at Citizens Advice 1066 face difficult struggles with debt, inequality, limited housing options, food poverty and unemployment.
In a significant proportion of cases, it would be in those clients’ interests for them to receive some legal advice on their issue, either to help them avoid a problem (debt or rent arrears claims, for example) or to enforce their rights (such as family breakdown issues involving children or financial matters, consumer claims)
However, because of the successive cuts in the scope and funding for legal aid over the last 14 years, legal aid is available for very few cases and the number of local firms offering legal aid in many areas of law has reduced to one or zero. This means that those who cannot afford to pay for legal advice (and this is not only those on benefits, but also people who are just about managing on low incomes but have no savings or other safety net) have no-where local to turn for legal advice they can afford. The nearest Law Centres are in Brighton and Canterbury, which makes them physically inaccessible to those on low means in Hastings. “
Richard Fisher, Solicitor and Senior Partner of Heringtons, Solicitors based in Hastings and with other branches across East Sussex strongly supports the project saying:
“We choose to support, and contribute to, our local community beyond our business activities and we know from feedback that our clients like to see this. We already do this through our support of various charities, but every day, we see people who need legal advice but who cannot afford to pay for it and for whom legal aid is not available. The law clinics will provide us an opportunity to give back more to the community by supporting some of those clients.”
We are developing a network of lawyers able to support clients needing access to legal advice.
If you'd like to help or donate with your time we'd love to hear from you.