December 30th, 2016
The Law Gazette on 6 December 2016 leads with the Master of the Rolls suggestion that we should let graduates represent litigants in person in court proceedings in an attempt to "plug the widening access to justice gap faced by litigants in person" and believes it would be a better system than "enabling the proliferation of uninsured, unregulated McKenzie friends".
It is suggested that this is targeted at graduates who have passed both the academic stage and vocational stage of their training, but who are not fully qualified and have not undertaken the professional stage of training to qualify as a solicitor.
The Master of the Rolls also says that “The benefit to trainees would be gaining experience commensurate to that provided by a training contract or pupillage and for an equivalent period,” however under the current regulations this would still not enable them to qualify, and experience is not the same as knowledge. The burden of insurance would fall on universities and pro bono centres who would be providing the training for the said graduates, organisations that may not be able to comfortably increase its cover to those actually unqualified to give advice. Apparently costs could potentially be reclaimed if a litigant in person is successful in a claim - how much more paperwork, time and effort would be entailed chasing potential costs, that are not guaranteed and could organisations actually afford to chase them?
There are numerous obvious drawbacks, not least of which is that it devalues the value add of a qualified legal adviser, to say nothing of the potential problems with insurance and the quality of advice. There is clearly a problem with funding. The profession have been asked to fill this on a pro bono basis but wholesale this is unaffordable – furthermore it cannot be the professions responsibility to fill a financial hole left by the government. More thought is required and discussion with the profession.
Jo qualified as a solicitor in 1992 having completed her training at leading Cambridge firms Taylor Vinters and Thompson and Co. After qualification, Jo moved to J Garrard and Allen in Olney where she established the family department. In 1994 Jo was made a Partner at J Garrard and Allen and continued to build and develop the practice. Jo trained as a mediator with Resolution in 1996.
In 2001 Jo decided to set up independently and created a purely family law practice in Stony Stratford recognising that in fact the skills required by family lawyers and the expectations of clients experiencing relationship breakdown and separation were different from those required in other areas of the law.
Hawkins Family Law fields 'a very professional team that delivers a high-class service and has strength-in-depth from senior to junior level'. Managing director and team head Jo Hawkins provides 'clear and accurate advice and moral support through often testing times for her clients; she focuses on deriving the best long-term outcome for her client and other parties'. The practice has particular strength financial matters, including divorce and ToLATA proceedings. Other key figures include Loraine Davenport, who has strong collaborative law expertise and handles complex children cases and high-net-worth ancillary relief matters; Annabel Hayward, who focuses on complex financial provision and co-habitation matters; and Stacey St Clair.
For more information please click here.
What the team is known for
Boutique family law firm that punches above its weight in terms of high-value and complex matrimonial finance instructions relating to business assets, pensions and substantial property portfolios, including assisting with the handling of assets abroad. Also represents clients in the negotiation of wealth protection agreements and private law childcare arrangements. Fields a team trained in collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution.
An impressed client says: "The team's personal service and individual care is a great asset,"adding that the lawyers are "always available to assist and understand the occasional need for immediate advice and guidance, providing a very reassuring service."
For more information please click here.