Why We Exist
We seek to offer a more cost effective and innovative approach to family or separation matters.
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) tells us that 2 out of 3 people with a legal problem do not seek the support of a solicitor. The SRA would like to see a more innovative legal market which better serves the needs of clients. Cambridge Family Matters aims to be part of that innovation.
The Effects of the Removal of Legal Aid
Increasingly, legal advice and representation is becoming the privilege of the rich with universal access to justice no longer a cornerstone of our legal system. Since 1 April 2013, when the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 took many private law children and family cases out of scope for legal aid, the situation only worsened. Since then, 80% of all new family court cases had at least one party who did not have legal representation – a Litigant in Person or LiP (Source: House of Commons Briefing Papers). The family court continues to see LiPs in at least 50% of new cases. Courts are struggling with the considerable number of LiPs they now see and this causes unacceptable delays to family law cases as well as inconsistency, as judges can no longer guarantee to see the same case through to final hearing.
The Removal of Early Legal Advice
Early advice has also been taken out of the scope of public funding. This has meant that many people, whose concerns could have benefited from early advice, have seen their dispute go unresolved, escalate or end up in the already overloaded court system. Our First Meeting service, offers this early intervention of information, at an affordable cost.
New Innovations in Family Law
The legal world is changing. In recognition of the overwhelming need to offer access to justice for all and to close the current overwhelming affordability gap, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is seeking to encourage innovation by introducing new approaches to the ways in which legal services can be delivered. Law firms no longer need to be owned by lawyers, clients can instruct barristers themselves, lawyers and barristers can offer arbitration and early neutral evaluation and legal training has been shaken up. Our clients have access to the lower, trainee rates when legal support rather than advice is required. You only pay the higher rates for advice when advice, rather than support, is what your case requires. Shortly, the SRA plans to free practising solicitors to offer services outside of law firms. This is our eventual goal.
Cambridge Family Matters is working within this new framework, keeping overheads as low as practicable whilst also offering our clients cost effective legal services. We tap into the knowledge and support of senior lawyers so that you will benefit from expert knowledge and support and we instruct lawyers or barristers when it is legal advice that your case requires. Many circumstances lend themselves to this approach. Sometimes, even the most litigious situations can see a dramatic reduction in costs by instructing a barrister through the Direct Access scheme while keeping legal support costs to a minimum with us.
Our commitment to provide personalised and cost effective legal support is what drives us. If you are worried about affording legal services, we can look to work with you to provide precisely the support that you need and charge you only for the things you can’t do for yourself. We offer a cost-effective Initial Meeting to establish the issues and routes to settlement, and then by seeking to reduce costs of legal support where appropriate, thereafter. Cambridge Family Matters offers family law support (McKenzie Friend legal support*), working with the Solicitors Regulation Authority to offer the same quality of legal services you would expect from a law firm but at more competitive rates. Cambridge Family Matters is working towards being fully authorised and regulated by the SRA.