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    Solicitors Panel

    Joining the Solicitors’ Panel

    The National Centre for Domestic Violence provides support to domestic abuse victims across England by specifically focusing on the legal protection that a court order can provide.

    Law firms are invited to apply to join our panel in areas where our existing coverage is not satisfying the demand for our service.

    We are not government funded and we do not accept donations. We create our own income by providing solicitors with an optional document drafting service if they so require. We are proud of the quality of our work and we only succeed to thrive and therefore support vulnerable victims irrespective of their financial position if we give exceptional service.

    In 2021 we provided nearly 4000 victims that could not afford legal aid or a solicitor with support to get a protective injunction, no other organisation provided this volume of support for free.

    We had thought for a long time for a phrase that sums up everything we do which could instantly be recognised by anyone as to what our fundamental principle is.

    We care for our clients, referrers, employees, solicitors’ panel, the police and the courts, but what we really care about above all is the victim – our client. We exist to provide service on a level that cannot be matched and what makes us strive to achieve such a high service level is the core principle that if we don’t then we will let our vulnerable clients down.

    Of course we care about our income stream, without that we do not exist and we care about our taxes and our creditors which means we have to run our organisation with a business head. We have to have Managers, Directors, HR, Supervisors, Investors, fee earners, help line advisers, admin, accountants and many more and these have to be good people and we need to pay for them.

    We try as hard as possible to deliver the best care we can for the income we receive. For us at NCDV– Every Client Matters

    Solicitors that join our panel need to be hard working, compassionate, conform with all regulations, preferably have special skills in the domestic abuse and violence sector, have experience in helping vulnerable people and last but not least understand what we do and why we do it.

    To help us understand you we have developed a questionnaire for you to complete which enables us to learn about you and your business, we need to thoroughly trust you with our clients and to do that we need to know you are able provide the necessary support. We also want you to completely understand us, how NCDV works and the dedication we commit to every client. So we invite you as part of our application process to spend a day discovering how we do this.

    The Legal Aid Agency have issued a statement in relation to the arrangements for legal aid firms to be on a NCDV panel which you can download via the link at the bottom of this letter.

    Please complete the application form which you can download below, return to me and I will then liaise with you to make arrangements for your visit.

    If you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to call me.

    Every client matters.

    Yours faithfully

    National Centre for Domestic Violence

    Solicitors Panel 1

    Mark Groves

    Chief Executive Officer

    Download the Application pack

    Legal Aid Agency Statement link

    By Fiona Bawden, Times Online (8th May 2007)

    “Steve Connor, a student at City Law School, is a man on a mission. Six years ago he was a fairly directionless 27-year-old. Today, as well as taking the Bar Vocational Course, he is chairman of the National Centre for Domestic Violence, a ground-breaking organisation that he dragged into existence after a friend could not get legal help to protect her from an abusive partner.

    Connor’s route to the Bar has been circuitous. In 2001 he returned from a year in Australia (he says that he would not dignify describing it as a gap year), and took a job as a process server in South London. The job (“I just saw it advertised in the paper”) was not quite as dull as it sounds. On one occasion he was threatened with a machete, on another, he was nearly stabbed by a man he had arranged to meet on Clapham Common to serve with a non-molestation order: “He’d seemed really friendly on the phone…”

    The turning point in his life came when a friend, who was being abused by her partner, turned to him for support. Connor went with her to the police. She did not want to press criminal charges so the police suggested that she visit a solicitor to take out a civil injunction. “We must have seen 12 solicitors in a morning. We just went from one to the next to the next to the next. Everyone was very eager to help until we sat down to fill in the forms for the legal aid means test,” he says. The woman, who had a small child, did not qualify for public funding. But, Connor says, her financial situation as it appeared on paper did not bear any relation to her financial situation in reality. “She had a part-time job and she and her partner owned their home. Yet she didn’t have any money. Her boyfriend was very controlling and controlled all the money; he kept the chequebooks and didn’t let her have access to the bank account.”

    The injustice of the situation got under Connor’s skin. “I just couldn’t believe that there was no help available to people who did not qualify for public funds but could not afford to pay.

    I just kept feeling that this must be able to be sorted if only someone would address it.”That “someone” turned out to be him.

    In 2002, thanks entirely to Connor’s doggedness, the London Centre for Domestic Violence was formed. It started out with him and a friend, but is now a national organisation, covering 27 counties, and has helped approximately 10,000 victims last year to take out injunctions against their partners.

    NCDV now has nine full-time staff, 12 permanent volunteers and has trained over 5000 law and other students as McKenzie Friends to accompany unrepresented victims into court. We have also trained over 8000 police officers in civil remedies available regarding domestic violence. The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) has branches in London, Guildford and Manchester and is on track to have branches in 16 areas within the next two years.

    NCDV specialises exclusively in domestic violence work and could be characterised as a cross between McDonald’s and Claims Direct. The high degree of specialisation means that its processes are streamlined: clients can be seen quickly and the work is done speedily and cheaply. “Sometimes, we will have one of our trained McKenzie Friends at a court doing 10 applications in one day,” Connor says.

    Clients are not charged for the service. NCDV staff take an initial statement: clients who qualify for legal aid are referred to a local firm; those that don’t get free help from the centre itself. It runs on a shoestring, heavily reliant on volunteers and capping staff salaries at £18,000 a year.

    Steve expects to qualify as a barrister this summer and hopes that having a formal legal qualification will give the centre added clout. “We are already acknowledged as experts and consulted at a high level, so I thought it would be helpful if I could back that up by being able to say I’m a barrister,” he says. He is just about to complete a one-year full-time BVC course at the City Law School (formerly the Inns of Court Law School) and, all being well, should be called to the Bar in July. Although Connor sees his long-term future as a barrister, he says that he has no immediate plans to practise. “I want to get NCDV running on a fully national level. Then I may take a step back and have a career at the Bar.”