Friday, 16 May 2008

Child-centred service at last

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SCOTLANDS first specialist legal service for children and young people who need advice and representation from a solicitor has been launched in Edinburgh. The Community Law Advice Network (cl@n) will specialise in child law, initially covering the Lothians, with longer-term plans to expand across the country. Children and young people and, in some cases, their parents will be able to accessADVERTISEMENTspecialist legal advice on issues ranging from adoption to seeking asylum. The service has been set up by solicitor Alison Reid and Fiona Jones, a non-practising advocate, who have both worked at the Scottish Child Law Centre, which runs a phone and e-mail advice service for children. The two lawyers noted that there was a significant gap between offering advice over the phone and helping young people to find a solicitor prepared to take on their case, partly because of legal aid pressures. If a legal issue arises for a child, then it is very difficult for that child to obtain legal help, explains Reid, who is chief executive of cl@n as well as its principal solicitor. This is due to a reluctance to see a solicitor in an office in town, the perceived costs, the complexity of the law and also the difficulty in finding a solicitor to do child law under the legal aid scheme. We always wondered whether the link was made between phoning the centre and going to the solicitor.

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