Our lay advocates are just like you – parents. They have been through the very process
you are now experiencing. Through their trials and tribulations they have diligently
researched the law, put it into practice and become adept at helping parents facing
They are largely self taught and exchange knowledge and experience within the network.
Frequently their skills are honed by working with established and highly experienced
advocates and litigant's friends. They are not Solicitors, Barristers or Paralegals
and they are not qualified to offer legal advice but offer guidance on how to utilise
the law to your advantage, to understand it and to produce the necessary documents
Where possible we seek relationships and advice from Barristers and solicitors that
we know are genuinely fighting for parents and frequently hand over cases to pro-bono
legals all ready for trial in the High Court.
They can review your case and give you options to be able to challenge social services
and the actions they are pursuing.
They can help you prepare court documents, undertake legal proceedings of your own
and understand the implications of what is or may be happening to your family.
We can help you instruct legal counsel, understand what is happening and what you
may have to produce. Generally a Lay Advocate can do all the paperwork for you just
as a solicitor would.
Our Lay Advocates specialise in Family Law but have experience of dealing with the
full range of public bodies that people may encounter problems with. Their knowledge
of your rights and the law is extensive and their understanding of the system means
that they can help you challenge and bring appropriate actions to try to ensure resolution
for you. This means we can offer an holistic overview of your case, regardless of
the professionals involved.
What’s the difference between a Lay Advocate and a McKenzie Friend?
Not a lot in all honesty. We prefer not to use the term McKenzie Friend as certain
associations using this name have been brought into disrepute.
Can you represent me in Court?
The right of audience of any Lay Advocate or Mckenzie Friend is at the discretion
of the judge in a particular case. Generally if allowed into the court room a Lay
Advocate or Mckenzie Friend (sometimes referred to as a Litigants Friend) is there
to provide support for you, to take notes, to give you guidance etc. Sometimes judges
will not even allow us into a court room, particularly in Ireland. The ability to
have a Lay Advocate speak for you in court should not be relied on.
So, you’re not qualified?
Aside from the very real issues many parents come across using a legal aid solicitor,
our Lay Advocates know exactly what you are going through. Not only do they have
genuine empathy and can see things from your perspective but they have a personal
interest in seeing social services stopped in their attempts to destroy another family.
You will find our Lay Advocates tenacious and prepared to go the extra mile to fight
your corner with you. They will seek every opportunity to challenge the social services
and their legal team, often using the law in ways solicitors fail to.
Why do you charge a fee?
Many of our Lay Advocates started out as volunteers wishing to make a difference
for families and doing cases free of charge. Taking on cases eats up time and resources.
To do this effectively it soon becomes a full time process. Many of our Advocates
work over weekends, bank holidays and in the evenings, preparing paperwork and guidance
Often in emergency situations they work through the night to have submissions ready
for court the next day. Our Lay Advocates also take on your whole case, no matter
how long it goes on for or how far you have to go through the courts – from Family
Court to Appeal Court etc. They charge a one off fee for all of this. The fee reflects
their experience, research and of course the huge number of hours it takes to consider
reports, court documents, research appropriate case law and prepare documents for
No-one can be expected to sustain this level of support for free, hence the advocates
charge a nominal fee. This is not a commercial enterprise, but it is a dedicated
and professional service to support parents directly. We will be honest – no one
is getting rich off this. It is simply an honest days work for a minimal fee by someone
whose genuine desire is to help you and your family stay together.