Updated 19 March 2018
I am often asked to recommend solicitors for SEN and disability cases. The following is a list of solicitors’ firms with whom I’ve worked and who I know have good expertise in SEN and disability issues. All these firms offer legal aid and will be able to advise disabled people and families about eligibility for public funding. All can help with judicial review cases and most advise and represent people in the First-tier Tribunal (education appeals) and the Court of Protection (Mental Capacity Act cases). However not every firm does every type of case. If in doubt, check the website or call the new enquiries number for the firm to ask. I have also added some firms at the end who do not offer legal aid but can be instructed privately by those who are able to pay. I understand that this will not be relevant to most disabled people or families but provide information as to these firms to set out the widest possible range of options.
I am not formally recommending these firms – because I can’t, I only know their work from my perspective as a barrister at the other end of the telescope from the client. However from what I know, I would be confident that all these firms will offer a good quality service from staff who are committed to disability rights. The best recommendations will come from disabled people and families who have used solicitors as clients – so ask around if you are in need of legal advice.
Some of these firms have offices around the country, others have just one office. Where the firm has a particular regional focus I have noted this. However geographical location isn’t as important as the right expertise, particularly as so much work is done online these days. You should be able to find out about each firm from their website, including any restrictions on the areas they serve.
Importantly, the only firm (and charity) which hold the legal aid contract for appeals to SENDIST are Simpson Millar and Coram. To access legal aid for those firms for these issues you will need to go through the telephone gateway – 0345 345 4345. NB – only ‘legal help’ is funded for SENDIST (not representation) and the legal aid assessment is based on the parent(s)’ means.
If a firm isn’t on this list, it may be that I simply haven’t had the chance to work with them yet. Please post any recommendations for further firms in the comments section below.
As well as specialist solicitors, high quality advice is available from organisations such as IPSEA and SOS!SEN, from the Contact helpline and from impairment-specific organisations like the National Autistic Society. Families across the country can also access advice and support from their local Independent Advice and Support Service (IASS) (link is to a very helpful map on the Council for Disabled Children website which has contact details for the IASS in every council). However it is important to keep in mind that for cases which need to go to the High Court via an application for judicial review (i.e. everything that doesn’t go to SENDIST) a legal aid solicitor will be required.
Final point – the list is in alphabetical order to avoid any accusations of favouritism by the firms I work with!
Legal aid solicitors with expertise in SEN and disability cases
- Ben Hoare Bell (North East) – http://www.benhoarebell.co.uk/. On Twitter @BenHoareBell
- Bhatia Best (East Midlands) – http://www.bhatiabest.co.uk/. On Twitter @BhatiaBest
- Bindmans – http://www.bindmans.com/. On Twitter @BindmansLLP
- Clarke Willmott – http://www.clarkewillmott.com/. On Twitter @CWCoP
- Coram Children’s Legal Centre (issues relating to children and care leavers only) – http://www.childrenslegalcentre.com/. On Twitter @CCLCUK
- Deighton Pierce Glynn – http://www.deightonpierceglynn.co.uk/. On Twitter @dpg_law
- Disability Law Service – http://www.dls.org.uk/. Not on Twitter.
- Irwin Mitchell – http://www.irwinmitchell.com/ On Twitter @IMPublicLaw
- Just for Kids Law (London – issues relating to children and care leavers only) – http://www.justforkidslaw.org/. On Twitter @Justforkidslaw
- Leigh Day – http://www.leighday.co.uk/. On Twitter @LeighDay_Law
- Mackintosh Law – http://macklaw.co.uk/. On Twitter @macklawlondon.
- SCOMO – http://www.scomo.com/. On Twitter @ScottMoncrieff
- Simpson Millar – https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk on Twitter @SM_EduComCare
Firms without legal aid contracts
- Boyes Turner – www.boyesturner.com. On Twitter @bt_sen1
- HCB Solicitors (Ed Duff) – www.hcbgroup.com. On Twitter @SEN_advice (Ed’s personal account)
- Martin Searle – www.ms-solicitors.co.uk. On Twitter @ms_solicitors