As the number of family law cases Advocate receives has steadily increased over the past year, this Pro Bono Week we are excited to be introducing our new target to place 50 family cases by the end of November 2023.

50 family cases website graphic

Last year, nearly 40% of applications to us were requests for help with family cases. So far in 2023, we have received nearly 750 requests for help in family law alone. We are anticipating that this will increase in 2024 due the continuing cost-of-living crisis.  

We receive a wide range of applications for help in family cases. These range from allegations of serious domestic abuse and child abuse, child abduction cases, child relocation cases, intervenor cases, sperm donor responsibility, contact cases and many other areas of family law. Sometimes our applicants are the only unrepresented party, leading to them feeling increasingly desperate and isolated.

Applicants are extremely grateful for the amazing work our volunteer barristers provide. You can read stories about previous cases our volunteers have assisted on here.

Louise Verroken-Jones, Pro Bono Champion at 1GC Family Law, has played an instrumental role in driving this ambition forward by calling on the Family Bar to help us place 50 family cases this month. In her statement on why she helped us launch this campaign, Louise said:

I am so excited to be involved in the launching of the 50 Family Cases campaign. The basis of the project was to both spotlight some of the family law cases that Advocate has, and to show to as many practitioners as possible that pro bono work is such an accessible aspect to add to your practice. Advocate are ready, willing and able to make this work as straightforward as it can be, and the clients looking for our support are always incredibly grateful.

As and until there is wider change, the next best thing the legal system can do is really pull together. With only a few simple words of advice, help with a position statement, or the starting of some cross examination questions, we can attempt to ease the burden. This is the beauty of pro bono work!

I hope that by the end of pro bono week, we can all see what a measurable impact we can have!

If you can help us place 50 family cases by the end of November, please sign up to our panel of volunteers to receive a list of the family cases we have available on our barristers' portal

Court of Protection Scheme

Alongside our target to place 50 Family Cases, we are also launching our new Court of Protection Scheme (CoP) this month. The Scheme aims to assist Litigants in Person with cases in the Court of Protection that would benefit from more specialist assistance, and to subsequently provide that assistance through the pool of specialist volunteer barristers signed up to assist through the Scheme. Through the Scheme, volunteers may be asked to provide a variety of assistance, including advising applicants on documentation required through SAR’s, initial merits assessments, advice on limitation with a view to assist obtaining legal aid or a CFA, drafting of documentation, or representation at relevant hearings.

The Scheme not only provides a route by which we hope many deserving applicants may now access pro bono assistance but, in doing so, it also provides a fantastic opportunity for juniors in particular to build on experience dealing with CoP and CoP adjacent cases.

The Scheme has been enthusiastically spearheaded by Ed Lamb, at Deka Chambers, who will kindly be leading the review of cases through the Scheme. Ed will be talking at the Scheme’s launch, as part of the Family Bar Pro Bono Week event being hosted at 1GC Family Law on 8th November 2023.

Ed has said:  "I am delighted to see this scheme launch and grateful to the wonderful team at Advocate for bringing it to life. Advocate and I think this scheme is of fundamental importance to a very specific cohort of applicants who suffer from mental health issues and/or are neurodiverse. This cohort have seen their rights of access to justice perilously undermined by the limits of public funding in this area.  We hope this scheme will address this imbalance and should also provide some fascinating work for those barristers signed up to it".

Contact our schemes caseworker, Jessica to find out more.