This committee was created in January 2012 prior to the implementation of the LASPO Act. Its main remit is to look at access to legal advice and assistance particularly to those who are of limited means. The Committee encourages pro bono initiatives and organises conferences and forums involving private sector lawyers, third sector agencies providing legal advice such as Citizens Advice and law centres, local universities’ law clinics, local authorities from the Liverpool City Region, and members of the local judiciary. The Committee also inputs into the agenda of Liverpool Law Society’s directors’ twice-yearly meetings with local councillors and MPs.
It has a membership of solicitors in private practice and third sector agencies including local university law clinics. It meets every couple of months, and has been meeting online via Zoom which is likely to continue to be the format going forward.
The Society feels there is still a continuing role for lobbying, particularly to elected representatives, and the meetings enable the Directors of the Society to highlight areas of injustice as they arise with a view to arguing for the re-opening of access to Legal Aid in the future.
In 2015, it was decided to set up a Joint Forum on Access to Advice. The initial aim of the Forum was to create an arena where those advice giving bodies who were primarily affected by the cuts in Legal Aid that came into effect in April 2013 could meet and seek to bridge gaps between need and provision of advice. The Forum has sought to co-ordinate efforts in providing advice across the six local authority areas covered by the Liverpool Law Society (Liverpool, St Helens, Wirral, Halton, Sefton and Knowsley) and continues to meet twice a year.