This weekend (20th February 22) is World Day of Social Justice, an international day recognising the need to promote social justice and tackle issues such as poverty, gender inequality and other basic human rights.
The rule of law is the basis of order and just conduct in our society, basic equality of access to that law is part of our DNA here at NLS.
To mark this important awareness day, we asked three of the team to tell us what Social Justice means to them and why they do what they do.
Adelle Banks – Supervising Solicitor (Kent)
Social Justice is not just a consideration at NLS, it is in fact the cornerstone of all the work that we do, it is the basis upon which the firm was developed. Daily, case by case, and campaign by campaign, we build upon our foundation of the social justice ideal of fair treatment and an impartiality for all.
Social Justice requires the law to be loaded in favour of the weak and exposed, to provide them with financial and other support, and with access to courts, tribunals, and other administrative agencies where rights can be enforced. To some extent those mechanisms and services exist, and we ensure our clients’ get expert help in navigating and accessing them. In our advocacy and representation for clients we champion and work tirelessly to even the distribution of advantages and disadvantages in a case, forever striving to achieve fairness. Practically, this manifests in ways such as working for free to support clients in obtaining funding towards their case from the legal aid fund, thereafter we provide the same quality and dedicated service that a fee-paying client would receive. We ensure that being at an economic disadvantage does not prevent access to justice. We utilise the availability of special measures in the Court arena, making proper applications and representations to endeavour that someone who has experienced abuse is not further abused by (for example) sitting next to the abuse perpetrator, or being questioned by them.
In a broader context, we champion social justice at a national level. Our ‘Educate a Generation’ campaign is setting out to do just that. The Campaign seeks to tackle the issue of social injustice by bringing it to the classroom and educating the next generations about fair and equal treatment in a domestic and social context with a view to ending the disparities that can lead to abuse. This moves away from a somewhat aged, adversarial, offender punishment, orientated approach to tacking domestic abuse, and seeks to address the issues at the root with education.
Often, injustice, mistreatment, and abuse are not borne of a desire to cause harm, but an ignorance in knowing how not to. Through our direct legal casework, we help experiencers of injustice and abuse to leave and survive it, and through our campaign we will address the root cause of injustice by educating future generations about it.
At NLS we endeavour not only to provide a great legal service for our clients, but a greater, more equal, and socially just future for all.
Jestina Johnson – Trainee Solicitor (London)
I do what I do to give my clients a voice and ensure that they are heard in an arena which can sometimes be very daunting and overwhelming.
We are not only working to ensure that we protect our clients’ whilst advancing their positions, but most importantly, our job is to educate and encourage them to have a better understanding of their circumstances in a hope that they reach a point where they no longer require our assistance.
Adam Aswat – Trainee Solicitor (York)
At National Legal Service, we endeavour to use the law as a way of delivering social justice for all our clients. We work to protect and fight for an individual’s rights.
A frightening statistic states that 80% of domestic abuse incidents are covered up and never reported. National Legal Service strives to help victims of domestic abuse by providing the support to ensure we can get them through this. I have always wanted to be someone who makes a difference, this role allows me to do this as I get to play a crucial role in helping victims leave a dangerous situation and start the process of rebuilding their lives.