LONDON, Dec. 7, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Like many others, the Institute is increasingly concerned about the future of legal aid. Part of our response is to provide support for an exciting new Matrix Chambers online project: Legal Aid Link (LAL).
LAL is a sophisticated online resource designed especially for those in the legal aid field (see below for details). The Institute is providing a comprehensive paralegal support section within LAL, and is also assisting Matrix Chambers by acting as a vetting agent.
As a vetting agent, the Institute will help Matrix Chambers to review and process applications from paralegals and others wishing to both view and/or post content on LAL. Although LAL registration and use is free, applications for access have to be approved.
James O'Connell, Chief Executive of the Institute said: "We are delighted to be working with Matrix on the Legal Aid Link project. LAL gives legal aid practitioners free access to online services and facilities that normally have to be purchased at considerable cost."
Carol Storer, Director of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group said: "The legal aid sector is under great pressure, and so the LAPG welcomes any initiative that provides tangible support to legal aid practitioners."
What is Legal Aid Link?
Legal Aid Link is hosted by Matrix Chambers and is funded by the Legal Services Commission. Use of LAL is free of charge to anyone working in the legal aid field.
LAL is an internet based resource designed especially for legal aid professionals. Its aim is to enable those working in the legal aid field to manage their cases, share information and develop campaigns efficiently. Uniquely, it offers individuals or organisations the opportunity to easily develop and customise their own resource to suit their needs. Information can either be shared with all LAL users or restricted to selected people, ensuring security of sensitive or privileged information.
How Does Legal Aid Link Work and Who Might Use it?
The LAL is designed in a similar way to social networking sites in that it enables a user to set up a "community" (i.e. self-contained section on the site), manage information on that community and determine who has access to that information.
Imagine you work as an adviser in a law centre or small legal aid firm, and you want a quick way to share information with your client and relevant third parties. You can create a "community" for your case and invite your client and solicitor/barrister and/or other relevant parties to join it. You can create a place in your community to upload any documents, questions, hearing dates, case law and so on. Everything is contained in one place on the Internet, accessible anytime, anywhere. Access to selected confidential documents can restricted to approved persons.
You may want updates on matters of law and policy in your area of practice. The LAL enables you to view content developed and shared by others in the field and to promote best practice and partnership working.
Alternatively, you may be working in a financially challenging environment in the legal aid field (and who isn't?) and simply want access to a free resource that you or your firm can customise to fill a gap in your IT infrastructure that you would otherwise have to pay a commercial supplier to provide.
Registering with Legal Aid Link
Registration is free, but restricted to those who work in the legal aid field. Any paralegal, other person or organisation working in legal aid can apply direct to the Institute for registration.
Law undergraduates looking to work in the legal aid field can register through the Institute, as can university law schools and FE colleges.
Please email office @ theiop.org (NB note break in link) giving brief details of who you are, what level of registration you want (viewer or to set up your own space) and your involvement in the legal aid field.
We regretfully cannot accept registration applications from providers looking to sell goods or services to legal aid practitioners.
What Stage is Development at?
This exciting project has literally only just gone live, and so has yet to become populated. As an early collaborator, the Institute is one of the first to post public content. We particularly welcome registration applications from persons or organisations wishing to post their own content.
Note to Editors
1. The Institute's collaboration with the world famous Matrix Chambers is another of the Institute's projects to create a proper and well rounded professional infrastructure for paralegals. It bolsters recent Institute efforts to give paralegal volunteer advisers access to existing pro bono programs; the Institute's work with various government agencies on enhanced rights for paralegals and the Institute/New York Paralegal Association joint creation of transatlantic paralegal competency standards for firms with offices in both jurisdictions.
2. For background information on the Institute please visit our media centre page on our main website, where you can also access previous press releases: click here.
3. Whilst a growing list of organisations focus on the potentially lucrative paralegal training market, the Institute consistently works on the non-commercial aspects of the developing paralegal profession, e.g. competency standards, career paths, paralegal apprenticeships, management standards for paralegal law firms, dialogue with the judiciary and Bar about dealing with paralegals, regulatory matters and offering careers advice and mentoring programmes to schools etc.
4. The IOP is the largest paralegal professional body in the UK. It is the oldest incorporated professional body for paralegals in the UK and is the oldest not-for-profit paralegal body in England & Wales. The IOP was formed in 2003 and granted institute status by the government in 2005 (its application being supported by inter alia, The Law Society, Bar Council, Citizens Advice and Crown Prosecution Service). Visit our web site.
5. The Institute also publishes The Paralegal - the UK's leading publication for all paralegals. For more information click here.
The Institute of Paralegals: click here
The Paralegal e-journal: click here
Matrix Chambers: click here
Legal Aid Link entry portal: click here
Legal Aid Practitioners Group: click here
Institute Contact Information
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Telephone: 020 7099 9122 or fax: 020 7904 3750
Outside the United Kingdom:
Telephone: +44 20 7099 9122 or fax: +44 20 7904 3750
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SOURCE Institute of Paralegals