What if I want to support Kids in Need of Defense UK but I can’t do legal work?
While the focus of our programme is recruiting lawyers to perform pro bono work, we welcome anyone who wants to support our work. Get in touch if you’d like to volunteer other skills or time and we’ll work with you to find a way you can help – or you can always make a one-off or recurring donation of any size.
Do I need to be qualified in England and Wales or Scotland?
Not necessarily – but foreign qualified lawyers will require the same level of supervision within their own firm to work on a Kids in Need of Defense UK case as they would for any other case.
What is the process for making an application to the Home Office?
Once you have received your initial training and been allocated a client, the Kids in Need of Defense UK lawyer that you’re working with will arrange the first appointment.
At the appointment you will advise the client on their application and what other information or documents they will need to support the application. You’ll then help your client complete the form and gather supporting evidence. You will be requesting information from third parties, doing legal research and you may be taking witness statements.
Once the form is complete and you have all of necessary evidence you will need to write legal submissions which explain the client’s circumstances and how they meet the requirements of the application. All of this work will be checked by your supervising lawyer as you go along and you’ll have guides and templates to work from.
How will a client be allocated to me?
When a client is referred to Kids in Need of Defense UK we send the referral on to the relevant hub. A supervising lawyer will then contact pro bono partners to see whether there is anyone available to take on the case. Once our supervising lawyer receives confirmation that the case can be allocated to a pro bono lawyer they will liaise with the client and pro bono lawyers to arrange a first appointment. The supervisor will send you details of the client and the kind of application you’ll be working on.
How many hours do I have to commit to?
We don’t have a minimum commitment requirement but if you agree to take on a case then we ask that you see it through. The amount of time involved varies from case to case but for a citizenship application it’s a commitment of around 20 hours. A leave to remain application may be up to 50 hours. Most pro bono participants work as a member of a team of between two and five lawyers, depending on their firm and level of experience, so the overall time commitment to a case for each lawyer may be as small as a few hours per case, or as much as thirty or forty hours for the most complex cases being handled by smaller teams – but we won’t ask you to take on a high-complexity case before you’re ready.
The majority of the time is spent preparing the application. In general this work doesn’t have a special urgency attached to it; often the process of obtaining supporting evidence from third parties will limit how quickly an application can be completed. As such, a time commitment will generally be spread over a few weeks between the first appointment and submitting an application, with periods of more intense work at the beginning and end of that period.
Once the application is submitted, most of our pro bono volunteers will stay in touch with the client whilst they wait for a decision. Immigration decisions usually take between 2 and 12 months, with very little predictability – but one of the things our volunteers say they appreciate most is being able to tell a client that they’ve been successful. However, we recognise that you may be unable to commit for months or years, and we’re always able to make arrangements if you’re unable to continue for any reason.
What if I don’t know anything about immigration law?
It doesn’t matter. Our experienced immigration lawyers will provide you with training and close support, legal resources and template documents so you’ll have everything you need to do a great job.
Our model is to try to build depth of expertise in a particular application type, so in general we’ll try to have you focus on one or two areas of immigration and nationality law rather than moving you around the types of case we handle. We also try to keep you closely paired with just one or two supervising solicitors from our team, so you can build a strong personal relationship with them as they supervise your work.
How do I get involved?
Kids in Need of Defense UK partners with law firms and other organisations rather than individual lawyers. If you work for a firm or organisation that isn’t already a partner you should speak with your pro bono coordinator or corporate social responsibility manager and ask them to contact one of our national coordinators.
If you don’t have a pro bono coordinator, take a look at our law firm FAQ which will give you more information about how our partnerships work.