This guidance explains where you may be able to get free help from a lawyer or adviser who can come with you to your hearing and speak for you.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Tribunal? 

IPSEA can give you advice and in some cases offer free and independent representation for families with cases at the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Tribunal. Start by calling their helpline for more information. 

Advocate  (formerly named The Bar Pro Bono Unit) can help find you a barrister who can provide you with free  advice or representation at court anywhere in England and Wales. They can help with any legal issue as long as you are not eligible for legal aid and don't have enough money to pay for legal help. 

Normally to access the service, you need someone from an advice agency (such as a CAB or Law Centre), or a MP or practising lawyer to refer you. You need to send a completed application form (on paper, not email) at least three weeks before the hearing or deadline for the piece of work you want help with.

Legal help is provided for one piece of work at a time, for example you could be approved for free legal advice, with free representation dependent on the outcome of the advice. Find information about how to apply.

Once you have submitted your application, it will be assessed by the casework team to make sure we have enough information about your case for reviewers to decide if you are eligible for free help. The team may ask you for more documents. Once the casework team is satisfied that they have enough information, your application will be reviewed and sent to a senior barrister. The senior barrister’s job is to decide if you are eligible for free legal help from a barrister. If you are eligible, the Advocate team will start looking for a barrister to help you. Because they rely on volunteers, they cannot guarantee to find someone to help you, but they will do their best.

The Free Representation Unit provides representation in employment and social security hearings in London, the South East and Nottingham. You need to get referred by an advice agency or CAB to use this service. See the list of agencies that can refer you.

If you have not found a service that can help you see our Help Directory or go back to the Going to tribunal section.  

April 2020

Share this content

Email, print or share via social media