We contacted many solicitors last year to tell them about ONRECORD and why it would be useful to their clients. We invariably received positive feedback about the idea but rarely anything more. They didn’t want to engage with us to get their clients to use the app, even though it was completely free but came up with a host of reasons why it wasn’t for them; it didn’t fit with their IT strategy; they didn’t have enough tech savvy clients; clients wouldn’t like the idea of recording their evidence online; clients preferred to talk to them face to face; clients didn’t have the time; and even, in one instance, that clients gathering evidence like this would be aggressive and confrontational, which would be wrong!
How to understand this reaction? We found that the junior members of staff, who do the work at the coal face, loved the idea and knew it would help clients. But it seemed that the senior people saw its potential to disrupt the status quo and earning power and didn’t want to engage. It seemed likely that concern to prioritise fees and traditional patterns of working were what drove their decision making but they had to find other excuses for obstructing it. Maybe, with the Covid 19 outbreak and all the repercussions though new ways of working will be embraced. We shall see. It’s the obvious way forward.
Our fortunes changed when we contacted Andrew Gray, Director at Truth Legal. Having worked as a solicitor in my own practice for years, starting out as a criminal lawyer, moving to family law and doing lots of legal aid public law cases, I am struck by how different Truth Legal is from most solicitors practices.
We are delighted to be working with Truth Legal. Their philosophy of focusing on improving access to justice makes them different from other solicitor firms. Since starting in 2012 Truth Legal have given away masses of hours of free legal advice. Every first consultation is free to clients. Since the reduction in legal aid they feel it’s important to do their best to fill the vacuum. That’s remarkable when you think that a lot of firms just gave up legal aid work because it didn’t pay enough. Fee paying clients are now the only ones they want.
Truth Legal’s Legal Library provides free precedent documents to any interested visitor to the website to help them formulate their case better. They explain “Due to the shameful reduction in Legal Aid and the high cost of legal fees, the courts and tribunals are clogged up with Litigants in Person (people without lawyers), who, despite their best efforts, really struggle to put down in writing what their case is all about. If, with the assistance of our precedent documents, someone more coherently explains their case, the courts (and therefore the administration of justice) will have been assisted.”
The same goes for their Legal Guides, personal injury eBook and Knowledge Centre. All of these areas on the Truth Legal website are a mine of information for anyone seeking help to make a case without a lawyer or to make using a lawyer more affordable because they are better prepared when they seek advice.
Truth Legal use no win no fee agreements in more unusual circumstances than the norm such as in employment claims. They’re more innovative and accommodating than most lawyers firms.
They will take on any organisation, no matter how powerful they are, or how well-resourced their opponents are, as long as the case is good. It is their mission to provide access to justice and they aren’t scared off by the rich and powerful.
If clients have legal expenses Insurance, they usually do not charge more money to their clients than the amount the Insurers pay. This saves clients a fortune. They have also partnered with CrowdJustice, a leading crowdfunding platform specifically designed to help clients get access to funding for their case.
It is our hope that, by combining all the information on Truth Legal’s website with the power of ONRECORD, litigants in person will have a much better chance of getting access to justice and clients will be able to keep legal fees more affordable.