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    21 November 2014

    Can’t I just represent myself? The changing role of family solicitors

    Following the changes introduced by the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) on 1 April 2013, Legal Aid was cut for private family law cases such as divorce and issues over the children. Legal Aid is now only available in cases involving domestic violence or public law proceedings regarding children. As time has gone on, the changes have had an effect on the progress of cases through the courts and people's access to justice.

    Recent Government figures have revealed that 60% of parents in Children Act proceedings are now unrepresented by a family solicitor (often referred to as litigants in person).  The impact of this is that parents very often do not know what they need to be doing and when or what they should be asking the court to do and cases can take longer to resolve.  The same can be said for financial proceedings following divorce or dissolution of civil partnership proceedings where, without the benefit of legal advice, the parties do not know what they are entitled to.

    There is still a vital role to be played by solicitors but how we are now involved has changed.  There has definitely been a shift in the way that clients now want to deal with their cases.  Whilst we are still instructed by clients, their needs and requirements are quite different to what they once were.  We have seen an increase in clients “dipping in and out” for help and an increase in clients wanting certainty as to costs.  Clients are very cost-conscious and need to know what each part of the work is going to cost them.  We have also seen an increase in clients seeking initial advice about how to do things; also clients who may have started proceedings off themselves and then coming in for help going forwards.

    The role of family solicitors these days has to be far more flexible than it once was.  The Family Solicitor now needs to be prepared to provide the service that their clients want.  Here at Steeles Law, we have seen an increase in clients wanting to know what each stage is going to cost them and seeking fixed fees where possible.  We are happy to work in this way and to help our clients with their needs.

    Our family law solicitors bring over 25 years of legal experience and are highly regarded by their clients. Specialising in a wide range of family law cases. If you would like to discuss your family matter with a member of the team, please call 01603 598000 or email family@steeleslaw.co.uk and a member of the team will call you back.

    *The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.

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