Wellbeing and Peer Support services for Legal Aid Practitioners

LAPG to facilitate access to free wellbeing services for legal aid practitioners

We know how hard it is to make a living in legal aid and that the work is pressurised and demanding.  On top of this, the impact of COVID-19 has been profound and brought with it the stresses of remote working and, for many, the need to juggle work and caring responsibilities. Over the course of the pandemic we have been speaking to practitioners about their wellbeing and how LAPG can provide support to manage the stress, burn-out, anxiety and vicarious trauma they reported.

We are delighted to announce that with support from Linklaters LLP we are launching a pilot scheme offering practitioners access to two free support services. So many of you who responded to our survey last year spoke about the benefits of peer support and these sessions are intended to provide a safe space to reflect and compare experiences about issues facing providers both inside and outside work. These may include economic, physical and emotional effects on wellbeing and also the impact on those around you; colleagues, families and friends.

The pilot will run for the next six months in collaboration with Claiming Space and Metzer Therapy.

Claiming Space will offer small group sessions for individuals in the evenings, comprising training and peer support workshops.  The sessions will be run by Joanna Fleck and Rachel Francis, co-directors of Claiming Space and co-authors of ‘Vicarious Trauma in the Legal Profession’.

The sessions will cover topics including:

  • vicarious trauma
  • burnout and boundaries
  • self-care and collective care

The sessions will begin with an overview of the month’s theme, including research and theory. The group will then be split into two sub-groups of around 15 people each for reflective discussions;

  • for junior practitioners (10 years PQE or less)
  • senior practitioners (over 10 years PQE/or those in management/supervisory roles)*

*Please contact us if you are unsure as to which group would be most suitable for you.

These sessions will be held on the second Tuesday of each month from 17.00-18.30, starting 13 April 2021. They will run for six months. It is important for the group that you are able to attend as many of the sessions as possible, although we do understand that it may not be possible to attend every one.

The sessions will be confidential spaces for you to learn, share and reflect on your legal practice.

Booking link for Claiming Space

Metzer Therapy will be available to work with organisations and teams who feel that they would benefit from additional support as a group. This year, when the pandemic has thrown up so many work-related issues, we thought it might be helpful to provide a space for any teams, departments or small organisations who want a neutral space to think about, share and explore workplace issues in greater depth. Sessions will be run by Sylvia Metzer who has over twenty years’ experience as an organisational therapist.

LAPG will be funding two teams/organisations through this programme as part of our pilot scheme. One individual must book on behalf of their team and supply individual contact details for each participant.

Groups of 6 – 12 people will meet for five 1-hour session on the following dates: commencing on 19 April, with future sessions on 10 May, 7 June, 28 June, 19 July.

The two support processes will run concurrently, one from 13.00-14.00 and the other from 17.00-18.00. It’s very important for members of the group to attend all sessions.

The focus for each session will be agreed by the team at the start of each session.

Booking: email sylvia@metzerconsulting.com stating group size and preference of time slot. Sylvia Metzer will then send a zoom link when group numbers are finalised.

Services will be provided in strictest confidence, with free and direct access to service providers, and personal information retained only by the service providers in accordance with their privacy and data protection policies.

As this is a pilot project we will be collecting anonymised feedback from participants to assess the effectiveness of the service and help us shape future services.

Please note that LAPG will not be delivering these services or becoming a therapeutic service provider. We have sourced funding for and providers of support services in response to concerns from practitioners and feedback to our survey and our role will be to ensure that practitioners have the information they need to make informed choices about which service(s) to access.

Please book directly through the above links and for further information, email lucinda.acland@lapg.co.uk

FAQs from LAPG’s COVID-19 Support Service

Download the first set of FAQs for our dedicated support service for legal aid providers dealing with COVID-19

See here for more information

LAA internal guidance on the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018

The LAA has shared internal guidance on the interplay between legal aid and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018, which came into force on 20 March 2019.

See here for the guidance.

LAPG’s Annual Review 2017

We’ve launched our 2017 Annual Review, which highlights our work and achievements across our three work strands:

  1. – Community
  1. – Operational Support
  1. – Influencing

Download a copy here (April 2018 – PDF: 1.1MB)

Research by Dr Marie Burton comparing telephone to face-to-face legal advice

Research Summary

Calling for Justice: comparing telephone and face-to-face advice in social welfare law

Dr Marie Burton

There are significant consequences of replacing face-to-face advice with telephone advice in social welfare law. These consequences can seriously disadvantage many social welfare clients, particularly those who are more vulnerable and those with the most acute legal problems (who are often the same people). While some clients value telephone-only services, for many social welfare clients, face-to-face interaction is likely to be more effective than telephone advice.

Read the full summary of Dr Burton’s findings here.

Dr Burton’s paper has now been published in the Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law:

Marie Burton (2018) Justice on the line? A comparison of telephone and face-to-face advice in social welfare legal aid, Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, DOI: 10.1080/09649069.2018.1444444

LAPG’s Manifesto for Legal Aid 2017

Government reforms to legal aid in April 2013 were a disaster for those who need to access the justice system to protect or enforce their rights.  Access to advice on family law, housing and homelessness, welfare benefits, employment, debt, judicial review, education, immigration…all decimated by the reforms. Hundreds of thousands of people have been unable to get advice each year as a direct result of the reforms.  Large areas of the country are now ‘advice deserts’ with vey few or maybe even no lawyers able to provide specialist advice.

Our Manifesto for Legal Aid (2nd ed. 2017) sets out a range of measures the government must take to ensure those who cannot afford to pay for advice can access still advice.

Download a copy here (October 2017 – PDF: 0.2MB) and speak to your local MP to help us reverse the cuts and restore legal aid – a fundamental right for all.

The Law Society’s Richard Miller summarises the latest IT issues for legal aid professionals

Richard Miller, Law Society Head of Justice, provides an interesting overview of the potential impact of IT innovation on the delivery of legal services, with a particular focus on services currently delivered under the legal aid scheme.  This speech was presented at the LAPG Annual Conference in October 2017.

Download a copy here (October 2017 – PDF: 0.1MB)

LAA Provides Guidance on Appeals, Enhancements and Hints for CCMS

Rob Damião, LAA Civil Finance Technical Lead, provides useful guidance to improve your experience of using CCMS.

Download here (PDF: 1.0MB)

(Presentation from the Association of Cost Lawyer’s September 2017 Conference)

LAA Releases New Top 10 Tips for Avoiding Problems with Means Assessments

The LAA has released an updated Top 10 Tips documents to ‘reduce the requirement for further information and requests and/or rejects, avoiding delay where possible’.  The tips cover state benefits, housing costs, childcare costs and bank statements.

The full document can be downloaded here.

New LAA Provider Pack for Exceptional Case Funding in Inquests

The LAA has published new guidance for providers wishing to apply for ECF for advocacy and other legal services in Inquests.  Download a copy here (April 2017 – PDF: 0.4MB)

LAPG Response to HPCDS Consultation

We have submitted a response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation on proposals to, inter alia, consolidate contract areas and introduce price competitive tendering to the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme tender process.

We have notified the MoJ that we have serious concerns that these proposals could undermine the sustainability of future contracts and the supply of housing providers more generally.

Read our full response here

LAPG Response to AGFS Consultation

We have published our response to the Ministry of Justice consultation on proposed changes to the Advocates Graduated Fee Scheme.

Read our full response here.

CCMS Survey – February 2017

We’ve launched a survey to capture user experiences of CCMS.  Our members are consistently telling us of issues they experience with the system.  We also know that a large number of applications are being processed.  We’d like to hear from anyone who is using the system so that we can analyse what needs to be done to improve CCMS for providers and for clients.

Take the survey here . It’s open until the 3rd of March and we’ll then use the findings to produce a report for interested parties.

The survey will take about 30 minutes if you provide us with detailed feedback about the issues you have experienced.

We’re collecting general feedback about stability, usability, support and time, but also specific examples of problems you may have encountered with applications, amendments and bills/POAs and examples of where the system has taken an incorrect or unexpected action.

LAPG Annual Review 2016

LAPG Annual Review 2016

LAPG Annual Review 2016

We’ve published our first ever Annual Review, which highlights our work over the last 12 months and looks ahead to the future for the organisation and the legal aid lawyers we serve.  Download a copy here.

The Annual Review also sets out our three primary objectives:

(1) Influencing policy and decision-makers to make the legal aid scheme simpler, fairer, more accessible and capable of facilitating access to justice

(2) Enabling legal aid practitioners to provide quality services to their clients by providing operational support

(3) Building a community of legal advice providers and to support that community through training, conferences and events

Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the Annual Review or would like us to send you a hard copy.

CCMS – Member feedback on the challenges of using the system

LAPG members are still encountering a huge number of issues with CCMS.  From technical problems and design issues, CCMS is proving to be problematic and in some cases causing severe delays and practical issues for practitioners.

Read the full list of feedback here.  Members have provided general feedback, for which the LAA has provided responses where possible, and more specific feedback about making urgent funding applications.

If you want to provide us with your experiences please email office@lapg.co.uk using ‘CCMS Feedback’ as the subject line.

LAPG Manifesto March 2015

Read our manifesto for creating a fairer, more accessible and sustainable legal aid system.

Manifesto

We are currently updating our manifesto and will shortly publish the 2017 version.