Sources of legal advice

This if for information only.  We are unable to provide advice on this.  For reasons why, click here.

Introduction

Many people that we help make use of the information and advice that we’ve provided, and go on to find legal advice to help them with a problem that needs legal expertise. As a result, this section is designed to help you find appropriate legal advice.

You may also want to see if our case work policy can help.

Our links with specific solicitors/organisations

Unlock is unable to provide specific recommendations for solicitors. However, there are a couple of links below to organisations that we have worked with and who we know well.

  • Bindmans LLP is a central London law firm specialising in human rights law, mental health law, and criminal law. Details of their funding arrangements are here.
  • Liberty focuses on protecting civil liberties and promoting human rights. They are one of the only UK campaigning organisations that pursue their objectives not only through lobbying but also by taking on legal cases. As well as acting as solicitors for people bringing (or sometimes defending) a case in the courts, they sometimes intervene in cases where they act for neither party. Liberty’s advice service is open to all members of the public, and is free of charge. They receives thousands of requests for legal advice and assistance each year. Because they’re a small organisation with limited resources, their lawyers are unable to take up all of these cases actively. As a result, they cannot guarantee that they’ll be able to take your case on or provide legal representation.
  • Stephensons Solicitors LLP has a dedicated human rights law and civil liberties team. Details of their funding arrangements are here.

Other useful organisations

Citizens Advice have a self-help website, www.adviceguide.co.uk. You can find your local CAB by visiting their online directory or calling the number above. CAB are often able to provide advocacy and sometimes limited legal support when helping individuals.

Law Centres can help with legal advice on welfare, discrimination, housing and criminal justice matters. You can search to find your local Law Centre through the Law Centres Network.

LawWorks is an independent charity with a mission to support, promote and encourage a commitment to pro bono across the solicitors’ profession. They provide services to individuals, such as a list of clinics that are available, as well as a referrals list. They also operate a casework service which is for those who require more than initial advice, although it can take a couple of weeks for an application to turn around, so this option is only available for cases which are less urgent.

Liberty gives advice on human rights issues to private individuals and to voluntary organisations. They take a small number of key ‘test cases’. You can access their advice service through their Get advice webpage, by telephone or by submitting a written query.

Searchable websites

The Law Society has an online ‘Find a solicitor’ tool to help you find a solicitor, find advice on what to expect, provide guides to common legal problems and help with what to do if things go wrong. Further guidance covers paying for legal services, specialist solicitors, lawyers for businesses, complaints, directories and frequently asked questions.

There is a ‘Find a legal adviser’ tool through the Ministry of Justice – this links to legal advisers with a legal aid contract in England and Wales.

Useful resources

CANS delivers accurate and up-to-date legal information to the public, students, advisors, lawyers and anyone else with an interest in British and European law. If you would like full access to this site and are resident in England, Scotland or Wales, you can enquire at your local library about access. If you are registered with library that has access, you should be able to use your card to access it from home.

InBrief is a growing legal resource providing information on the laws of England and Wales. It contains articles on a variety of legal issues, written in layman’s terms by their team of writers. They have extensive legal knowledge and experience in their particular area of the law and provide high quality information on the topics they cover.

Want to complain about your legal advice?

The Legal Ombudsman handles complaints about solicitors. You must make a formal complaint to your lawyer or law firm before you can take it to the Legal Ombudsman. Firstly, put your complaint in writing to the lawyer or law firm concerned. Clearly write ‘Formal complaint’ at the top of your letter and keep a copy (download “Putting your complaint in writing” for more information). Keep copies of everything, including any replies you get. If you are not satsified with the outcome, you can then complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

If you want to complain about a solicitor that has worked for someone else then you need to contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Covering the costs of legal advice

If you have money, then do what anybody would do when looking for legal advice – choose your private solicitor carefully. Check out their experience; ask how much it will cost before s/he starts the work. For example, many firms offer fixed price up-front deals. Research every firm you think can do the job and compare prices. Above all, if you have the funds then don’t risk another conviction by lying about your income to try and gain legal aid.

For civil cases, you may be able to obtain public funding (legal aid) to help with legal costs, but this depends on many things, including your finances (how much you earn, what savings you might have etc) and what sort of legal help you are looking for. You can check if you can get legal aid here.

Pro bono is not a substitute for legal aid, it is an addition to it. It can provide legal help to those who cannot get public funding but cannot afford to pay their legal costs. It means that the lawyers will not charge for any time they spend on a case.

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