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Affordable Justice seeks to expand its disruption of the traditional legal landscape

The business model operated by non-profit family law firm Affordable Justice has proven so successful that the company is proactively to exploring other sectors in which vulnerable and under-represented people are not eligible for legal aid yet still need access to affordable legal support. Such sectors include immigration and social justice cases.

The law firm is able to replicate a similar model in which the usual profit element of the fees is stripped out, without compromising the overall quality and professionalism of the legal services as a whole. It is keen to talk to foundations and other charities who struggle to find affordable legal representation.

Affordable Justice founder and director Lisa Hilder is showcasing to interested parties the family law firm’s unique structure – this structure is based on an Alternative Business Structure with charitable status, yet offers the same (if not better) quality of service as its commercial colleagues despite charging less than a third of average fees.

Since its launch in 2016, Affordable Justice has helped more than 1100 women access what are usually prohibitively expensive legal services to help them escape from often damaging and dangerous abusive relationships. With stringent barriers to legal aid eligibility, as introduced by the LAPSO changes to legal aid funding legislation in 2012, women were disproportionately affected by the cuts to funding.

“It is vital that the quality of the legal advice and support is not compromised by the reduction in fees, so it is important to be able to attract the same level of talent as our commercial colleagues by matching salary expectations,” commented Lisa Hilder. “Within that there is also a need to be hyper focused on a demographic that risks being under- or mis-represented. This enables us to build a groundswell of momentum that is going to give them a much fairer and achievable chance of success.”

Affordable Justice is a firm that is founded by women and operates purely for its women client base. It is particularly proud of its feminist roots, describing its operations as having a ‘golden thread of feminism’ running through everything it does. It acknowledges that other demographics have rights but is keen not to get drawn into any discussions around excluding certain sectors of the population, focusing positively on including those it specifically champions.

“It has long been acknowledged that the family law courts system is deeply flawed in the way it operates, particularly to the detriment of women. The very nature of abuse and control means that abusive men can exploit its different procedures and processes, placing women in increasingly vulnerable positions,” continued Lisa Hilder. “By being single minded in its focus, Affordable Justice is able to challenge the inherent system and slowly change it bit by bit by isolating and eroding those areas of weakness and restructuring a more robust response.”

 

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