Family law organisation Resolution has labelled Justice Secretary Michael Gove’s recent call for more pro bono work “not sustainable”.
Former Education Secretary Michael Gove became Justice Secretary following last month’s general election. Speaking at a legal event earlier this week, he discussed the current state of the legal system in England and Wales, contrasting the typical experiences of the wealthy and the less well-off in the court system, saying:
“Despite our deserved global reputation for legal services, not every element of our justice system is world-beating.”
Richer people are able to secure “the finest legal provision in the world” he declared, but others sometimes struggle.
Mr Gove called on members of the legal profession to increase the amount of time they spend on pro bono work, saying existing commitments to do so were “welcome, but much more needs to be done.”
The Tory MP for Surrey Heath claimed:
“When it comes to investing in access to justice then it is clear to me that it is fairer to ask our most successful legal professionals to contribute a little more rather than taking more in tax from someone on the minimum wage.”
Responding to the suggestion, Resolution chair Jo Edwards expressed agreement with the Justice Secretary’s comments on the importance of access to justice regardless of wealth. She said she hoped Mr Gove’s speech signalled “a change of direction from the new government, as removing legal aid has exacerbated the ‘justice gap’ in this country significantly over the past few years.”
But, she continued, while “…pro bono legal services are plugging many gaps at the moment…expecting the legal profession to deliver free services as a matter of course, as Mr Gove has suggested, is unsustainable as a long term solution.”
Resolution represents more than 6,000 lawyers across England and Wales committed to a “a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters”.