As a solicitor with 16 years’ experience in special educational needs law, I must respond to Lord McNally’s assumption that the education lawyer who had had a client for 11 years was possibly not giving the right advice.
As those that act for parents of children with special educational needs will know, such clients face a daily battle with the system in relation to getting the right special educational provision for their disabled children as well as the appropriate community care package and welfare benefits.
The legal challenges that arise are massive and the biggest concern is that under the new arrangements from April 2013, that client will now not be able to find a solicitor to represent her.
While special educational needs is now kept within scope, the Legal Services Commission has limited the legal help work to only three firms in the whole country. It is very unlikely that vulnerable clients like the lady who had needed her solicitor over the last 11 years will be able to find their way through the telephone gateway system to secure the services of one of the chosen providers.
Clients will not get the help they need and this will cost the system much more in the long run.
Karen May, John Ford Solicitors, London N4