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Hiring challenges key in Legal Aid Board strategy
Pic: Legal Aid Board

30 Apr 2024 / justice Print

Hiring challenges key in Legal Aid Board strategy

The Legal Aid Board (LAB) has launched a three-year strategy that puts a strong focus on community service, alternative dispute-resolution, and civil-justice reform.

The Statement of Strategy for 2024-2026 sets out what the board describes as “a comprehensive framework to enhance the delivery of civil legal aid and family-mediation services to the public.

Speaking on the launch of the strategy, chief executive Joan Crawford said that the expansion of the board’s services over the years had solidified its position as a respected agency offering legal and mediation services to the public.

The launch of the document coincides with the one-year anniversary of Crawford’s appointment, as well as the recent appointment of the board’s new chair Nuala Egan SC.


The statement says that measures to ensure staff retention will be high on its agenda, acknowledging that its capacity to attract and retain skilled, talented, and dedicated staff has faced “increasing challenges” recently.

“This issue is especially noticeable in hiring recently qualified solicitors, due to the current highly competitive job market, but it also extends to other specialist roles,” it says.

The strategy also states that “concerted efforts” are needed to address geographic shortfalls in its service provision caused by gaps in its permanent workforce.

“Where, historically, we have been able to deploy private practitioners from our panels on a case-by-case basis, there are some areas where no panel members are available, which represents a challenge to our ability to provide a consistent, uniform, and accessible service nationwide,” the board says.

IT systems

The strategy also calls for investment to improve its information-technology systems, which “have not kept pace with the rate of innovation in the sector”.

“Too often, our staff are unable to access important information or documentation in a timely manner, or to collaborate with colleagues internally across the organisation, or externally with practitioners, with the Courts Service, or with clients,” it states.

The document also welcomes the current process to reform family justice and sets out its intention to play “a leading role”. The board says that it will be prepared to take over the full administration of criminal legal aid when required.

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