Solicitors – A Caring Profession

December 2011

Brain Chase Coles is now the only firm left in Basingstoke offering Legal Aid (now called public funding) for general Family Law problems. Apart from an excellent niche practice specialising in childcare cases involving the local authority, all the other major firms in Basingstoke have long since given up Legal Aid. Why? – Because it doesn’t pay. For the standard Legal Aid case we are paid less than you are likely to pay your plumber for a call out if you have a leak, and for more substantive cases that can go on for six months or more where there is a “substantive issue” to be resolved, the fee received is less than an average car service. All the other firms have given up, perhaps understandably, putting profit ahead of compassion.

So why do we do it? We are certainly not in it for the money. We believe that Legal Aid is essential in a fair society. People’s legal problems can be just as acute as their medical problems. The stress and trauma caused by a relationship breakdown, worries about the future and arrangements for the children are common to all, whether rich or poor. At Brain Chase Coles we have always had a strong service ethic. We, and our predecessor firm that we grew out of, have always done Legal Aid since it was established as part of the sweeping welfare reforms of 1948. The need today for legal support at times of crisis for those who cannot afford it is just as great today.

Thankfully there are still some vocational lawyers left, those of us who came into the profession to help people in trouble, to fight for the underdog and, in a small way to contribute to fairness in society. The Human Rights Act enshrines the principal that there should be equality before the law. No equality can exist if one party to a dispute can afford a lawyer and the other cannot.

That is why Legal Aid is so important and why we continue to offer it as part of our broad range of services to the population of Basingstoke and North Hampshire.

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