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Family business | Legal band aid

Although many solicitors are prepared to do what they can to defend access to justice for the most vulnerable members of society, it will never be enough without legal aid, argues Marilyn Stowe

10 April 2013

It is a rare solicitor who doesn't get asked, at some point in his or her career, what it is like to represent someone whom you believe to be guilty, or to whom you have taken a passionate dislike. For family lawyers, the curiosity focuses on the bad eggs. What is it like to represent a bully? A bounder? A so-called gold-digger? When I am asked a question like this, my stock answer is straightforward. Although my day-to-day work brings challenges, it is never my function as a lawyer to make moral judgements. Rather, I help clients to arrange acceptable settlements. If I have a bad feeling about someone, I can simply refuse to represent them.

In truth, the biggest challenge for a solicitor is not representing somebody who is a bad egg, but somebody who is just the opposite: vulnerable, downtrodden and desperately in need of the security, reassurance and long-term financial stability that proper legal advice can provide. These are the clients whose cases are never far from...

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