In August 2021, EWA entered into a partnership with Scottish Women’s Aid and BG Family Law to place a solicitor within Edinburgh Women’s Aid (EWA).
Early indications are that this is a hugely valuable service for women affected by domestic abuse. Between August and the beginning of December 2021, 55 women had been referred to the solicitor, and the responses they’ve given have been very encouraging.
The legal system can be very difficult to navigate, especially for women who have experienced domestic abuse, and EWA wanted to provide a service that could specifically address these needs.
The one-year pilot project was set up to provide this support, as well as to track and assess the difference that having a domestic abuse specialist family solicitor makes to women affected by domestic abuse. The program, funded by the Legal Education Fund, enables women to have longer, more targeted consultations with the lawyers. Since the lawyers in the EWA pilot provide a free service, and because the solicitor is highly experienced in domestic abuse cases and has a strong understanding of the dynamics of abuse, the conversation can, from the start, be specifically about the woman’s experiences and needs..
The lawyers at EWA also work with our staff, training workers to better understand the legal aspects of domestic abuse, and what the women in our services might encounter.
Women using the service have said:
- “The amount of information that the lawyers were able to provide was amazing, they were so knowledgeable and answered all my questions making me feel more confident and supported throughout the whole process.”
- “The Solicitors where able to explain things in really understandable terms, unlike other services. They were sympathetic, answered all my questions and it felt good to know I had someone on my side. Everything was well communicated and direct, there was no messing about. The solicitors took time to get to know my case and I felt there was a real depth of knowledge. I didn’t need to explain the same situation time and time again, which I know happens a lot in these situations and that can be very painful.”
- “My English isn’t great; the lawyer was so patient with me and allowed me time to explain my situation. She was polite, respectful and kind.”