In collaboration with Salmons, and a number of other local solicitors, Keele University Faculty of Law has launched an innovative way forward in the delivery of legal services in North Staffordshire to those most affected by the massive loss of legal aid provision, writes Jane Staff, Head of the Family dept.
Keele Law School has combined an extension of the McKenzie Friend principle and the skill of their third-year law students to assist the local community gain access to justice in a world largely devoid legal aid.
A McKenzie Friend is an individual who assists an unrepresented litigant in presenting their own case in court. The McKenzie Friend does not need to be legally qualified and does not act as an advocate but might advise what points to emphasize and documents to refer to.
This is the first initiative of its kind in the UK and there will be a launch meeting at the University Law School building on the 24th October 2012 at 2 pm. The students will be supervised by various partner organisations such as Salmons and other local law firms. Judge Duggan, the designated family law judge for Staffordshire, has expressed support for the scheme, as have Staffordshire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Citizens Advice Bureau. Trials of the scheme are due to start at the end of October 2012 and if successful it will be extended.