Post by Patrick Torsney on Nov 26, 2010 2:24:45 GMT
It's makes me very proud of what we've all achieved with ilegal when I continue to see everyone contributing, even though many of you may be feeling pretty despondent right now. We need to continue to stand together and share what we can so that we can find a way forward
I want to let you know that we haven't been inactive since the Green Paper came out. Oh no. In fact, we've been working very hard on something we think you may find very useful; it's quite dangerous but, if it works, it will be a very innovative and ilegal way of kicking back against the attack on SWL, your clients, organisations and your jobs (and that includes your jobs too, LSC colleagues). We'll be able to share this with you shortly
In the meantime, even though the odds may seem insurmountable, don't give up. It isn't over until it's over, and I for one am going to put up a fight for what we believe in, and damn the consequences
Against the odds, against the apparent inevitability of losing the battle, here's some iron to say what the hell, let's fight to win it anyway
Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right, Because their words had forked no lightning they Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height, Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray. Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Have a good Friday everyone and enjoy your weekend, next week is a million miles away and everything will have remained right where you left it
Post by Colin Henderson on Nov 26, 2010 5:06:45 GMT
Dylan Thomas once said "An alcoholic is someone you don't like who drinks as much as you"
May you all enjoy your Friday evening libations without guilt, whatever they may be. And if your fury at Mr Dj then makes you commit disorder, that's ok; you will have the support of the stated policy of the Law Society in doing your bit to help fund legal aid.
Post by Patrick Torsney on Jan 28, 2011 5:21:35 GMT
There are two things that I want to talk about in this Friday Message, one operational and the other, well...
The Point of Principle (POP):
As you will probably know by now there has been a new POP certified in respect of the Welfare Benefits category of law. Whilst the LSC provided me with the wording of the POP itself, they have refused to allow me to see the guidance, nor have they at the time of writing published either the POP or the guidance publicly
However, we do have a 'leaked' document which does look like it is the actual guidance to the POP, although I myself can't confirm this for sure until we see what the LSC finally publishes
Now, I've mulled this over a little and believe that if it is the guidance then the only reason the Commission would be hanging around publishing it is so they can brief their RM's and Regional Offices on its interpretation and how to deal with requests or enquiries from organisations following the POP being certified
It's clear from the guidance in its present form that it is designed purely to give the impression that nothing has changed and that the LSC continues to think it has the right to disregard NMS where IB50s, ESA50s and such have been completed within NMS. This is not the case however, and I shall be dismantling the guidance as soon as I have it confirmed it is the final version, and not some LSC internal guidance that elaborates on guidance we have yet to see, produced by the CAC itself
Whether you have enquired of your RM yourself, the other thing that may be happening now, is that RMs may be getting in touch with you about the POP prior to the guidance being published. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the Commission did their best to downplay the POP on the ground and its impact on future work and, very importantly, on old cases where they recouped money from you via the various audit mechanisms in respect of these types of cases - particularly, Financial Stewardship. I imagine this contact would include, somewhere along the line, a conversation about letting sleeping dogs lie, and perhaps not wanting to stir up trouble ("don't forget, we could always call in the Spanish Inquisition Provider Assurance...")
If anyone has had any feedback RM whatsoever from their RM about the POP and particularly any suggestions as to what the state of play is post-POP, then I would really like to know about it - feel free to email me directly if you would prefer, I would always respect your confidentiality
There will be more on the POP to come. You can follow it here:
By the way, CAAN have invited me to give a presentation on this POP situation to their membership in the afternoon on the 9th Feb, in Birmingham. If any of you want to come along then you will need to get in touch with CAAN as soon as possible: firstname.lastname@example.org
The battle for properly funded advice
I just wanted to say well done to everyone who has and is doing something to protect and promote the value of the legal advice sector, particularly since the legal aid reform proposals came out. I'm a little loathe myself to call it the 'free legal advice sector'. Nothing is free and legal aid certainly is not free. Someone pays somewhere. Perhaps this is why the value of legal aid is a little ephemeral, particularly amongst the public?
I went to the Justice for All launch at Westminster on 12th January - do you know, since then I've met about five people I know well who also said they were there. Thing is, I never saw them! I think in time, if all the people who said they were there were actually there, then there would have been about 10,000 who gathered in the Jubilee Room that day. What a party!
Anyway, the launch was a great success and I've been having some very constructive communication with the JfA board, and particularly with Gail Emerson at CitA who is like a breath of fresh air. We've linked the MyLegal site to JfA, being clear that it is JfA that is the campaign, and MyLegal is a supporter site, feeding case studies to JfA wherever appropriate, focussing on the client experience and helping raise public awareness. The Guardian has now used 3 of the case studies on MyLegal so the message is certainly getting out there. You can check out the other media things we've been fiddling with here
Don't forget, we need more case studies! Even ones you have used elsewhere or provided to others will do. Also, a big thank you to the law centre who sent me 10 yesterday! Totally made my day and good to get some law centre studies in there too. We'll be putting these up over the next week and making them available for JfA and the media
The next thing I would very much like to see is more unity in the legal advice sector. Specifically, I would like to see the Law Society throw its hat into the ring and join Justice for All. Independent campaigns are one thing, but this is a battle the like of which none of us have seen. It is time to stand together or we will lose
The other thing I wanted to get across today is how I feel about all this and what I'm doing about it. I have to be honest and say that I do get pretty down when I see what is happening right now to the legal advice sector, our sector (this is a massive understatement). I don't just think about the organisations in trouble. Given I've met so many of you all around the country, and know many of you by name or at least by face, I think of you and how bloody hard it is and is going to be for each of you. It is affecting all of us. It's going to be hard for all of us. I worry about the clients and where they will go in future. Does that sound a little OTT or cliched? Probably, but it's true. None of us work in legal aid or the wider advice sector without having some significant personal commitment to the work we do and the people and communities we serve
The whole thing makes me angry. In fact it makes me want to swear and shout and to tear someone's head off. But hey, for those that have met me, you know I'm a passionate kind of guy
Nevertheless, I continue to stay as calm and focussed as possible, using my own increasingly scant resources to keep the flag flying. I'm doing what I can, In my own way, to take the fight for advice forward. For one thing, the Team and I continue to keep ilegal going and our sister forum My Legal is also picking up. At which point I'd like to say thank you to Chris, Colin, Fiona, Gayle, Nick, Richard, Pippa and Steve. Without this inner circle of incredibly committed people, who also do it all on an entirely voluntary basis, neither of the forums in the 'ilegal network' (the editor of the Guardian called it this when I spoke to her recently - we are sooo the new Facebook) would probably still be around.
I wonder where we would be right now if they weren't?
I don't know how you feel right now. I don't know if you are worried or not or whether you are resigned to 'inevitable change' or not. I don't know if you are doing something about it or already have. I just hope that if you feel strongly about it, that you do something. Yes, there are no guarantees and yes, it might all be for nothing in the end but, myself, well, I would rather know that if it was then at least it was a glorious end and I went down fighting for what I believe in
Have a good Friday ilegal people, and a loving and peaceful weekend
Post by Patrick Torsney on Feb 11, 2011 5:21:09 GMT
Hello ilegal people
It's the Friday before Valentines Day, the deadline for the legal aid reform consultation is Monday at midday
By now, your organisations will have no doubt already submitted its response or be on the last tweaks. You yourself are probably at the same stage or, are trying to find the time (and inspiration and will) to put your own in too
I think we all know it's important that as many go in as possible. Sheer numbers do count. Irrespective of this, I want you to be able to say to yourself afterwards, whatever the result, that you did your bit too and at least made the effort
Putting in your own response is easily done. The simplest ways are to use stock responses and spend a few minutes personalising them. If you haven't sent anything in yet, then pick one of these below and go for it, it shouldn't take you long at all:
1. Justice for All has plenty of template responses you can download, adapt and send in, here:
Oh, by the way, people keep asking me whether there is any point in all this. For example, at a presentation I was giving on Thursday someone asked me if I thought the Government will back down on SWL, for example. Do you want me to tell you what I think? I think they will. This is why it's important for us all to do our bit right now
Get something sent in, however short and then put it behind you
Post by Patrick Torsney on Mar 4, 2011 7:31:20 GMT
This Friday Message also went out to all the subscribers to our email Alert service
It may have gone a little quiet out there, but that certainly doesn't mean that nothing is happening. Here are some things to take note of and some things to do in order to maintain your tempo -
Thinking about protesting against the cuts on the 26th March? ...there's an 'app' for that
It's a (free) basic toolkit app for people with smartphones who are going on the march in London on the 26th March, with a key locations map, logistical info, background on the case against cuts and a live feed of updates from Twitter (though you don't need to use Twitter yourself to read it)
It's a HTML5 web based mobile app that you can download and add to your home screen on things like the iPhone and Android devices. So, whether you are going on the march yourself or are just interested in another way of engaging with what's actually going on down on the street on the day, feel free to check it out here:
38 Degrees is a UK non-profit, progressive organisation that campaigns on a diverse range of issues to make changes its supporters regard as positive. The organisation states it aims to "campaign for fairness, defend rights, promote peace, preserve the planet and deepen democracy in the UK." 38 Degrees does not have any political affiliations and emphasises independence from all political parties. There are currently 3,448 votes for legal aid - add your vote too
Get involved with MyLegal
We are currently talking to Channel 4, after one of their producers came across MyLegal. We are discussing gaps in justice and the real effects on individuals and families for a documentary they intend to put out in May
MyLegal.org.uk is becoming a really useful way of getting the message across to the media, largely down to its focus on real stories from people who have needed legal advice and the legal advisers like you who have helped them
It's important that we continue pushing for as many case studies on MyLegal as possible, covering as many categories of law as possible. It's an opportunity to showcase your work and also, we think it wise to plan ahead whatever the Government decides to do about reforming legal aid
You are also free to join in the discussions, and if you have any case studies you want to add or let us have then that would be even better
We've got more than you can shake a stick at. Have we got yours? You can add it yourself or email it to us and we will add it for you
CPD accredited training for Civil providers
CLS Support has published its national training programme. Some excellent learning opportunities here for civil legal aid professionals! Well, I would say that, I wrote most of them. You can have a glance over and see if there's anything you fancy, here:
9th March: The Cabinet Office has called a number of Government departments together to discuss what should be done about legal aid and proposed legal aid cuts, with particular reference to the voluntary sector. What we will hear about this meeting and how soon is debatable however, it is very likely that some important far reaching decisions will be made. We'll let you know as soon as we get to hear
16 March: Launch event of the Labour Party campaign to protect advice sector funding at the House of Commons. All political parties have been invited to attend. This is going to be a biggy and again very likely to have some impact on the reform considerations. More info, including speakers here
17 March: National Pro Bono Centre hosting a 'Question Time' style debate titled Legal Aid after the election - one year on. More info and how to get an invite to attend, here. Speakers include Djanogly and Lord Bach
26 March: the march in London against the cuts. See above
That's it for now. I have to get back to the other day job
Post by Patrick Torsney on May 6, 2011 2:22:27 GMT
Good morning legal aid people
Here we are, the eye of the storm
I just wanted to let you know that next week I'll be making a new legal aid document available for you to use with MPs, media and Councillors etc. It's taken a hell of a lot of work but it's pretty good, even if I say so myself. It's quite different to everything else that you will have seen although, it does compliment them nicely. Think of it as an ilegal aid, a gift from me to you
I'm going to be counting on you to circulate it far and wide. I'll be getting in touch with Justice for All and Sound Off For Justice too and hopefully they will help. It should be especially useful for the JfA day of action planned for June 3rd
Myself and the ilegal and MyLegal teams are continuing to do everything we can. Our first responsibility however, is to you and anyone else who actually does the work delivering the service to the public - pro bono publico. Those who know me will appreciate that I do not play the 'game of thrones'. Instead, I continue to exercise as much influence as I can on those that do, particularly the institutionalised power brokers within the sector. This doesn't necessarily make me very popular with my peers but, I believe, is important nonetheless. I do truly believe in justice for all, not 'just us' for all and believe we all have a part to play
I also wanted to tell you to keep your chin up. You see injustice, despair and suffering every day. You don't just talk about it, you taste it live it and tackle it head on. You no doubt also see how it can only get worse for your client group and community if the Government goes ahead as it plans. However, in the greater scheme of things it is only one more phase and I genuinely believe justice will ultimately prevail. That might seem a lofty aim and right now out of reach but, we have to have an aim and we need to shoot for it regardless. Let's face it, no-one gets into this job for the money
Remember, right is right, even if they don't yet see it. Wrong is wrong even if they don't yet believe it and nobody, and I repeat nobody, puts legal aid in a corner
I continue to spend much of my time travelling around the country working with legal aid providers and people just like you. I remain profoundly humbled by your commitment, the work you do and the lives you change for the better each and every day. I can't really put into words how proud I am of you, but perhaps it is enough, simply, to say it
You are a light in the dark. Shine on. Have a peaceful weekend, next week is a million miles away
Post by Patrick Torsney on Jun 3, 2011 3:04:07 GMT
Good morning everyone, it's a beautiful Friday
Today is the Justice for All Day of Action and there are events all over the place. All the best to everyone who is able to do something today - please let us know how you get on!
For those stuck in work, check back when you can and hopefully we'll be able to see how the various events went. All being well, I intend to get some film footage of the rally in London and should have this available later today or over the weekend at the latest
Justice for All has some good tips on what you can do today, including things you can do without even leaving your seat! It has also set up a Flickr page for people to upload any photographs they get today - you can check it out here: