Legal Aid Handbook 2011/12, Ed Vicky Lang & Simon Pugh (Legal Action Group)
I’ll be honest, when I was reminded that I’d said I’d review the Legal Aid Handbook 2011/12, my heart sank. It was definitely a ‘what was I thinking?’ moment. And it is fair to say that the subject matter is, by its very nature, fairly dry and technical. However, this guide compresses the need-to-know basics (plus a brief gallop through where we are now and quite where reforms might take us) into fewer than 400 pages. Compared to the 3 volume LSC Manual, that alone makes it a godsend. The language is clear, informative and as jargon free as it is realistic to expect in the circumstances. Certainly from the perspective of a family barrister the information was accurate to the best of my knowledge and belief (if you’ll excuse the lawyer’s pun) and it was also very helpful to get a perspective on the duties (and workload) of solicitors. Of course, given its length it is not and cannot be comprehensive but salient points are covered and there are useful references to the relevant parts of the Manual/LSC website (the latter particularly helpful, as the search engine rarely comes up trumps in my experience). However, it gives advice about all stages of client representation, from assessing eligibility, representation (if required) and the small matter of receiving payment. All in, this is a great starting point for any queries about legal aid, and a useful addition to the library.
The Legal Aid Handbook can be purchased from the LAG online bookshop here.