Affordable Justice is a charitable family law firm based in Hull, run by women for women, specifically geared towards those affected by violence and abuse. It provides low-cost legal help for women not eligible for legal aid, who cannot afford high street prices.
In April 2013, legislation came into force which drastically reduced eligibility for legal aid, having a significant impact on women affected by domestic abuse, such that their access to civil family law remedies was almost entirely swept away. The founding trustees of Affordable Justice set out to formulate a solution.
After exploring several options and discounting establishing a grant-funded charity to offer free advice, due to concerns about funding sustainability, they devised a not-for-profit break-even business model. This would provide a service priced at less than a third of commercial high street rates, without compromising quality or rates of pay for solicitors and other staff.
After registering as an alternative business structure law firm with the Solicitor’s Registration Authority, and going through a rigorous accreditation process, the firm received its licence to operate in February 2016 and opened initially in the local area. It soon became clear that there was demand across the UK, and it subsequently developed an enhanced business model to offer the service across England and Wales.
In its first six years, Affordable Justice helped 1,027 women with a full range of family law interventions and saved them collectively over £1.34m, based on the minimum amount they would have paid to high street firms. A recent external evaluation found that women felt respected, and believed and that staff are on their side, with 96% achieving the legal outcomes they wanted in full or in part. The pricing made a significant difference to 80% and rates of self-representation have reduced by 69%.
Charity Awards judge Rachel Cockett said Affordable Justice had identified a problem and devised a solution that opened up provision to more people while also generating a viable level of income for the service. “It was sustainable and replicable,” she said.
CC Reg no. 1168469