The Role of the Solicitor in the Children's Hearings System : A Study Commissioned by the Scottish Legal Aid Board

Porter, Robert and Welch, Vicki and Mitchell, Fiona (2016) The Role of the Solicitor in the Children's Hearings System : A Study Commissioned by the Scottish Legal Aid Board. [Report]

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    Abstract

    In 2015, the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) commissioned the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland (CELCIS) to carry out a piece of research looking at the role of solicitors in the children’s hearings system. This research took place between July and December 2015, and was designed to address the following five topics: • Defining the ethos of the children’s hearings system and applying this to solicitors • The role and impact of solicitors in the modernised children’s hearings system • How to achieve a fair and consistent approach to monitoring compliance • How best to get feedback from professional and non-professional stakeholders • Training of solicitors on children’s hearings The role of solicitors in the children’s hearings system has taken on greater importance over the last five years, as the number of solicitors attending hearings proceedings is perceived to have increased since Part 19 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (The Scottish Executive, 2011) enabled the provision of legal aid to both children and relevant others. In order to gather information, the study included nationwide surveys with solicitors, social workers, reporters, and panel members, followed by focus groups with these same groups. In addition, the study included key informant interviews with various professional stakeholders and interviews with three young people with experience of solicitors in the children’s hearing system.