TV Edwards LLP has had a long association with Young Legal Aid Lawyers (YLAL) - a group of lawyers committed to practising in those areas of law that have traditionally been publicly funded. This year, YLAL celebrated its 10th birthday and on Thursday 23 April 2015 hosted an event in recognition of the same.
The event was in part sponsored by TV Edwards LLP. It was organised by YLAL committee members Heather Thomas (a solicitor in the family department at TV Edwards LLP) and barrister Rachel Francis (family and immigration barrister at 1 pump court). With the support of the two co-chairs, Katie Brown (a solicitor in the housing department at TV Edwards LLP) and Connor Johnston (a homelessness and community care barrister at Garden Court Chambers) and the rest of the YLAL committee .
The event was introduced by a talk from Laura Janes, who jointly founded YLAL in 2005. Followed by a key note speech by Baroness Scotland. Her speech started with a thank you to the room, and colleagues for caring enough about justice to be willing to take on legal aid.
Specifically in relation to Family Law, Baroness Scotland QC, implored all family legal aid lawyers to ‘get your judge to understand how fundamental legal aid is until the Legal Aid Agency had to listen’. Before ending with "what has happened on legal aid for domestic violence has almost broken my heart."
We were then shown this very powerful animation, pitting three audacious lawyers against the current justice minister, Chris Grayling.
The formal part of the evening ended with a very politically lively panel discussion on access to justice after the election, chaired by the Guardian’s legal correspondent Owen Bowcott. Representatives from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party were on the panel as well as barristers, Martha Spurrier and Connor Johnston. The debate was made more lively by input from Baroness Scotland, who stayed to hear what the parties had to say and asked why, during LASPO debates parties ignored the empirical data which made clear the cuts didn’t save money .
The event was hosted at London South Bank University who have also been long term supporters of YLAL. TV Edwards LLP was well represented at the event by members from family, housing, community care and Actions against the police attending. It was a hugely successful evening, at the credit of the organisers and YLAL commit who give up their own time in evenings and weekends to organise it - this commitment itself is inspiring.