In these difficult times for public funding, the Community Law Partnership (CLP) stands out as a beacon of hope, showing that it is possible to deliver very high-quality advice while simultaneously doing battle with the bureaucracy involved with the provision of legal aid services.
I remember some years ago raising with the firm the type of business model that would survive in the brave new world of LASPO. The reply was simply to do each case to the highest possible standard.
So far, it seems to be working. While the number of firms doing publicly funded work has declined alarmingly (in Birmingham, there are now no more than a handful), CLP has continued doing only legal aid work, being involved in numerous leading cases in the fields of housing and Gypsy and Traveller law. Have a look at the firm’s website: it is some list. And to top it all, it really is a community law firm, supporting local students and community organisations alike.
CLP’s achievements have not gone unnoticed. Partner Rosaleen Kilbane was named social and welfare lawyer of the year at the 2012 LALYs. A few weeks ago, CLP was awarded law firm of the year (five to 15 partners) at the Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards (having previously won the ‘sole practitioner to four partners’ category in 2012).
But leaving all this aside, what really marks CLP out is this. It deals with some of the most marginalised, vulnerable and excluded persons in our society. It treats them with dignity and respect, gives them a voice and fights tigerishly on their behalf. The value of this to us all cannot be overstated. Long may it continue.