Affordable Justice was set up as an alternative business structure in direct response to the cuts to legal aid affecting women across the country having access to legal services, specifically in matters relating to family law. In its simplest terms, the company stripped out the profit element of legal work, which enabled them to reduce its fees to customers to less than a third of traditional high street solicitors.
What is an alternative business structure?
An Alternative Business Structure (ABS) was introduced as a formal, regulated framework for businesses in the Legal Services Act 2007.
Since 2016, the company has worked tirelessly to help women access essential legal services while experiencing traumatic circumstances perpetuated by often abusive partners who are trying to control them and their children.
Demystifying the Family Courts Processes
From a grassroots start in Hull, working out of the Preston Road Women’s Centre, the company became known as a safe and effective resource for local women who had no idea how to navigate the family court system, let alone actually stand up and represent themselves in front of an ex-partner who had a history of controlling and abusive behaviour.
The stay-at-home mandates of the pandemic fuelled this growing need, as women increasingly found themselves trapped in a situation with little means of escape. Affordable Justice’s business structure enabled its solicitors to work flexibly and online according to the often dangerous circumstances in which these women found themselves.
This period also demonstrated the scalability of the company’s business model, as more and more, they were helping women across the UK, not just in the local Humber area.
An Angel on My Shoulder
Affordable Justice realised that they had created a business model that responded to a very real and growing need in UK society and looked to scale it up. In preparation, the company commissioned an independent evaluation of its business to date, which was released in February 2023. Key findings in the report, titled ‘An Angel on My Shoulder’ include:
- Over 1000 women in 100 locations across England and Wales have been supported.
- Estimated total savings to women of over £1,340,000.
- Women felt respected and believed and that staff were on their side.
- 96 per cent of women achieved the legal outcomes they wanted in full or in part.
- The pricing made a significant difference to 80 per cent of women
- Rates of self-representation were reduced by 69 per cent
- 90 per cent of women found the service easy to access all or most of the time
- 87 per cent of women felt supported to make the choices they wanted all or most of the time
The cuts to legal aid have highlighted the structural changes necessary to how family law is practised in the UK, and Affordable Justice remains at the forefront of legal companies looking to drive through those changes and protect the lives of women and children throughout the UK.