Leading legal aid lawyer Angela Jackman has recently been recognised as one of eight inspirational women of colour who have helped to shape the UK. She talks about the impact of cuts to legal aid. ..
Jackman, a partner at Maxwell Gillott, has worked as a solicitor since qualifying in 1987, specialising in education law, community care and mental capacity cases. She was selected out of 80 nominations as a winner of The Eight Women Awards in September of this year. Organisers of the poll, Media Diversified, a not-for-profit organisation committed to celebrating and highlighting the achievements of women of colour in the UK described Angela as ‘a truly deserving winner’.
The lawyer spoke to LegalVoice about her concern over the reduction in scope of legal aid and the detrimental impact of the MOJ’s ‘draconian proposals’ on access to justice and the rule of law. In the sphere of education law in particular, Jackman has witnessed a massive reduction in scope since the introduction of LASPO, for example the removal of legal help in school exclusion cases unless there are related disability discrimination, special educational needs or potential judicial review issues, and has been active in lobbying for change. With a niche practice in Court of Protection work, much of her caseload is certificated, yet she sees undertaking a degree of pro bono work almost as a given as a legal aid lawyer. ‘Often elements of cases go out of scope and when the client needs it, you do it,’ she says. Having already introduced reduced rates and fixed fee packages to accommodate clients on low incomes who are no longer eligible for legal aid, Angela Jackman admits that her firm is ‘still grappling’ with how to cope with the risks of not being paid fully for judicial review work and believes this will require ‘thinking outside the box’. Yet despite the challenges facing solicitors today, Angela remains cautiously optimistic for the future . She is ‘heartened’ by the number and success of challenges to the government’s proposed cuts, and the ‘broad support from the judiciary’ which ‘vindicates the concerns and lobbying over proposals to restrict legal aid’ However, she is also mindful of the uncertain future that social welfare lawyers are facing.
Angela Jackman graduated from Balliol College, Oxford University and worked at Hackney Community Law Centre for thirteen years after qualifying. She attributes her outlook on life and her politics to growing up around the law centre movement. She has been shortlisted for the 2014 Law Society’s Solicitor of the Year Award. Angela has also been named as Times Lawyer of the Week and was presented with an award for Outstanding Achievement at the Legal Aid Practitioners Group Silver Jubilee Awards Ceremony in 2009.
Maxwell Gillott is a specialist law firm providing advice on education, health and community care law. Founded by Elaine Maxwell and Charles Gillott in Lancaster in 1998 Maxwell Gillott initially became a subsidiary of Simpson Millar LLP in 2009. They have a national presence, with offices around the country.
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