LAG Legal Aid Handbook 2017 to 2018

BOOK REVIEW

LEGAL AID HANDBOOK 2017/18

Edited by Vicky Ling and Simon Pugh
With Anthony Edwards and chapter 21 by Steve Hynes

ISBN: 978 1 90840 786 3 (book)
978 1 90840 787 0 (eBook)

LEGAL ACTION GROUP
The access to justice charity

www.lag.org.uk
www.legalaidhandbook.com

LAG GIVES US A FIRST CLASS SERVICE FOR 2017/18
FOR ALL INVOLVED IN LEGAL AID SINCE LASPO

An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

We have reviewed a number of editions of this excellent annual work from the Legal Action Group in the past and have no hesitation in recommending it as a prime text for all involved in legal aid matters. The aim of the two lead editors, Vicky Ling and Simon Pugh is to make the new edition “as relevant and useful to legal aid practitioners” as possible.

A number of additional contributors give the work as much variety as possible, including Solange Valdez-Symonds and Richard Charlton who cover immigration and mental health schemes. Anthony Edwards writes the crime chapters to go with his own LAG work on “Criminal Costs” whilst Katie Brown deals with housing and Steve Hynes contributes “his usual authoritative survey of the political scheme” so well.

The handbook has a supporting website which can be found at “legalaidhandbook” dot com. This popular innovation with a range of practitioner and academic titles is most welcome at a time of substantial digital change. The site can be used for updates, news alerts and other material of interest.

The title remains “an invaluable companion and essential reading for all legal aid practitioners, from caseworkers to senior partners” and, clearly, all legal aid lawyers and advisers should not be without it.

The contributors have expertly included, as a “one-stop shop”, all the information that is not currently available in one place. The Legal Action Group offers “the only single volume guide to the criminal and civil legal aid scheme” as well in short form which is readable and well laid-out for ease of reference.

The excellent Ling and Pugh and their colleagues offer us “practical, step by step guidance on conducting cases, getting paid, advocacy, financial and contract management, performance monitoring and quality standards and an overview of recent policy developments” in just over 500 pages. It’s a tool which is a practitioner’s delight because there are separate chapters on all the major areas of law covered by legal aid and sections devoted to litigators and advisers, advocates and managers.

The updated edition covers the following depending on your practice needs: full coverage of the new 2017 crime contract; latest changes and updates to the civil scheme; discussion of current case law and hot topics in legal aid practice; hints, tips and practical advice from how to manage a contract to navigating CCMS; specialist chapters on billing, crime, public family law, private family law, housing, mental health, immigration and exceptional funding; a dedicated section for advocates (particularly helpful for the Young Bar); guidance on managing legal aid work and tendering for contracts; a finally a full round up of the latest policy developments at this time of change after LASPO and before we get the promised meaningful review from the MoJ.

The 2017/2018 edition is replete with case studies, checklists and practical tips as are all LAG publications reflecting a hall mark of their house style. We get “clear and easy to follow guidance on the ever more complex legal aid” so this annual remains fundamental reading for everyone involved in legal aid from new caseworkers to experienced lawyers and managers across the legal board. It’s a book you will see in the court room… which we think is high honour indeed!

The civil legal aid scheme is as stated as at 1st April 2017, with the crime chapters covering the new criminal legal aid contracts coming into force on the same date. The handbook is available in both print and as an ebook.
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