The UK’s largest legal aid firm is looking to triple the number of solicitors at its Birmingham office in the wake of collapsed providers that have left an ‘advice desert’ in the city.
Duncan Lewis, which opened its Birmingham office with 28 fee-earners last year, is looking to recruit 60 specialist solicitors, providing advice and representation in child care and family, housing, immigration and personal injury law.
In 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available, the firm received more than £16.6m from civil legal aid. Practice manager Jason Bruce (pictured) said the firm has 34 offices and advises more than 23,000 clients a year in 17 practice areas.
Bruce told the Gazette that the closure of high-profile firms, including Blakemores, Challinors and Cobbetts, as well as Birmingham Law Centre, has left a ‘horrible advice desert’ in the city. ‘It’s a total denial of access to justice,’ said Bruce.
Duncan Lewis, he said, has the capacity to fill the gap. The firm’s main advantage, he said, is its size, enabling it to invest in IT and outsource back-office functions within the UK.
Most solicitors at the firm, Bruce said, are self-employed and earn a percentage of the fees they bring in. ‘The only way you can survive is to be technologically savvy.’