Since 2013, the number of people eligible for legal aid has dramatically decreased, and it is increasingly difficult to obtain even for those who qualify for it. With such barriers to access to justice, and the overwhelming demand for help, pro bono can play an important role. Pro bono is not, however, a substitute for a properly funded legal system.
Recognising the need to help, since 2015 Kirkland & Ellis partnered with LawWorks and from 2020 with the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust. Through these partnerships, lawyers at the firm have spent more than 8,076 hours to help 118 claimants in welfare benefits appeals to the First Tier Tribunal. The claimants were ineligible for legal aid. The two charities provided valuable support with their welfare benefits specialists.
Without this legal help, these families might not have been able to obtain vital benefits, faced with the challenge of having to prepare their cases without expert legal advice.
This is therefore an important example of a sustained collaboration between a law firm and charities who can provide specialist support in social welfare law.