WHN Solicitors has been awarded a new legal aid contract that could be worth more than £1m.
The three-year contract, which comes with a two-year extension option, means six of WHN’s seven North West offices can now offer family law services to clients who qualify for legal aid.
The firm’s previous legal aid contract, which covered the firm’s Rawtenstall, Bury and Blackburn offices, has been extended to include its Bacup, Accrington and Haslingden practices.
Legal aid is crucial to delivering fair and equal access to justice to people at risk of being excluded from the legal system. It uses public funds to help pay for legal advice, mediation and court or tribunal representation for people who could not otherwise afford these services.
WHN’s new contract covers the firm’s family law services in children matters; care proceedings; divorce; financial matters; domestic violence injunctions; and international child abduction.
It is believed that no other law firms are currently undertaking legal aid family work in Bacup or Rawtenstall.
Katharine Marshall, associate solicitor and head of WHN’s family law team in Bury, is the only Lancashire solicitor and one of only a handful in the North-West to be included in the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU) expert panel list. Katharine also holds the Resolution accreditation in International Child Abduction.
Katharine, who is also a member of the Law Society’s children panel, commented: “The award of this legal aid contract is a landmark achievement for our firm, and we expect the next three years – and potentially the next five years – to be extremely busy.
“The contract is not capped, so its value depends on the volume of qualifying legal aid work that we undertake, but we estimate it could be worth more than £1m, and possibly significantly more.”
Katharine added: “At WHN, we strongly believe that legal advice can have life-changing implications – especially in family law, where the wellbeing of children is paramount.
“Working with clients who are eligible for legal aid means we can do this in a way that removes financial barriers to disadvantaged and vulnerable people, who are often at their lowest ebb when relationships and families get into difficulties.”