Wanna see some scary stats? Here you go. I’ve prettified them but still best to view them through your fingers or by peering round the side of the sofa just in case.
Post script : I posted this late in the evening and in the aftermath of a near tantrum following an hour fiddling with the software to make the above chart. Hence, I did not have the wit to identify my source. Which was some stats circulated by our local DFJ and which originate from CAFCASS (not the court). The stats relate to s8 applications (contact and residence) and show variously cases where “one party has a solicitor”, “both parties have a solicitor” and “neither party has a solicitor”. That begs the question “What about cases involving more than two parties, e.g. those with a Guardian or a grandparent – the former is likely to involve at least one lawyer but I’m not sure if they are included in the stats or not.
One website is simply not enough these days. And so I have been working on a little side project (to the enormous detriment of my yet-to-be-begun redesign of poor old Pink Tape).
Ladies and Gentlebugs, may I present to you the lucyreed.co.uk public access website. Perty ain’t it?
A word or two about the why.
Because we at the bar are pretty inefficient when it comes to direct access enquiries. They take up lots and lots of clerking time, to the intense irritation of our lovely clerks, and rarely bear fruit. Many cases are unsuitable, a high proportion of enquiries are sent on a whim (the perils of easy clicking) and are not seriously pursued, particularly when money is mentioned), and others cannot be processed speedily enough to deal with a time sensitive issue, because the process of information gathering is not streamlined. This means lots of wasted time and effort for me, my clerks AND most importantly, for litigants in person frantically shopping around for some help, buzzing around the internet in a cloud of confusion.
So this website is designed to do two things : to inform and to triage. If a client properly understands public access before they make an enquiry (and in my experience they are utterly bewildered by it) then they may form a view its not for them and be diverted away from a pointless enquiry. If they do make an enquiry they are able to make it on an informed basis, and understanding their own responsibility with respect to the conduct of their case.
And in order to make an enquiry a litigant must answer some basic questions about their case and what they want from me. So the first contact I get contains the information I really need rather than the information a client thinks I need. If I can tell it’s not suitable from the outset that’s that. Nobody hanging around drumming fingers waiting for an answer. If it is suitable we can get off to a running start with the basic information gathered at the outset.
I think that’s what annoying management speakers call “Win Win” (yeurk). I know there are people I can help through public access – and hopefully this website will help me find them, and them find me.
We’ll see how it goes. It might not work. I’d welcome feedback, likes and shares.
Happened upon on the interwebs: a man asking for guidance via social media:
“…you should all know by now that I am not legally trained at all and entirely self taught in the family courts.
I have been approached by a very big local law firm and asked if I would consider taking on their family law caseload as a paralegal. officially, I guess I am already a paralegal but i dont have automatic rights of audience so i would need to get a qualification. they also are very attracted to the fact that I am ready to do my mediation training and consider this to be my natural progression in the practice.
my issue is this… if i take the position, I will then have to take the cases they give me which is inevitably going to lead to me working for skanks. the way i figure it, i can work on them from the inside if i had to. i hate the notion of a bloke suffering at my hand and it would definately cause me some problems. on the other hand, if i dont take the position, [xxxx] solicitors will employ someone that has no scruples at all about caning the living fuck out of some poor bloke. I was given the first 2 cases from their load today and asked if i wanted to take a look at them.
obviously, once i agree to take the cases I cannot excuse myself from a case unless there is a conflict of interest or I will be barred from working in the courts and if i dont like the cases i am given i have no choice but to proceed….
your thoughts please guys. please try and have a serious attempt at answering this issue rather than taking the piss… lol it means a lot to me that i make the right decision, kids happiness depends on it.”
This is the future people.
[By the way I don't know what he decided to do - or anything about him. And I'm not offering any comment myself, I just thought it highlighted some interesting questions / issues about the legal profession and the reliance upon paralegals for the provision of legal services.]