LawWorks calls on solicitors to join new pro bono service
Charity platform needs housing, family and employment solicitors on pro bono basis
Charity LawWorks is inviting solicitors to take part in a new pro bono service to improve access to justice through technology.
With support from Deloitte Legal, LawWorks has developed an online platform called Free Legal Answers (www.freelegalanswers.org.uk) that virtually connects individuals in need of legal advice with lawyers who are able to provide it on a pro bono basis. The platform is currently in the early pilot stage, but has already provided advice to over 50 clients.
LawWorks reports that 90 lawyers have signed up to the platform so far and is calling for more solicitors to get involved in the project, especially lawyers who have experience in housing, family and employment law.
A Free Legal Answers website is already established in the US via the American Bar Association (ABA) and LawWorks has been granted a licence to introduce the service in England and Wales.
The focus of the service is on initial and one-off legal advice. Individuals are referred to the platform by a network of organisations, including advice agencies.
Volunteer lawyers can preview the questions and respond at any time and from any location – they can also contact individuals if further information is needed.
As the ongoing social and economic impact of covid-19 materialises, the platform hopes to assist individuals most in need during these challenging times. All advice provided through the website will be insured by LawWorks’ professional indemnity insurance.
Deloitte Legal has provided management and technical expertise to assist LawWorks in configuring and testing the website to fit the legal environment in England and Wales.
The Access to Justice Foundation has awarded funding for a dedicated project development post for the service, which will include verifying lawyers registering to take part, under the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) Legal Support for Litigants in Person grant programme.
The two-year programme, which the Foundation oversees on the MoJ’s behalf, aims to explore the most effective ways of resolving people’s legal issues at the earliest possible stage.
LawWorks chief executive Martin Barnes said: “Pro bono is not and should not be seen as an alternative to legal aid, but it can help enable people to access the timely advice they need and which they cannot afford to pay for.”