Pro bono legal executive highlights legal aid cuts

A legal executive committed to advising vulnerable members of society has been given a Chartered Institute of Legal Executive (CILEx) pro bono award.

CILEx fellow Patricia White partnered with barristers to provide legal support to people who could not afford representation or advice via the JIB initiative (Joint ILEX Pro Bono Forum and Bar Pro Bono Unit Scheme), which conects barristers with chartered legal executives.

She used her acceptance speech to highlight the future plight of many who, due to legal aid cuts, will not be able to afford legal advice or representation.

White’s dedication to her cases impressed judges, who commended her work on a case which involved supporting parents with severe learning difficulties whose child was taken into care after suffering an injury.

Her intervention allowed the parents to prove via witness statements that the injury was an accident and so keep the child in their care.

CILEx president and awards judge Nick Hanning said of White: “The unit’s case workers have described her work as exceptional and her commitment as astounding. She is a wonderful example of the worth of the JIB Scheme and an inspiration to us all.”

White added: “I am feeling rather shocked at receiving the medal, as quite simply I share my passion for law and access to justice by giving of my time and support to the unit. I feel it’s vital to help address the balance and ensure that, regardless of financial circumstances, everyone has equal access to legal assistance.  

“I am honoured to be recognised for my support for pro bono work, a service which I consider will ultimately be expected to address the void created by legal aid cuts and with the recent announcement of the introduction of tribunal fees from next month, albeit means tested, many will be unable to afford legal redress even if they have the law on their side.”