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Jo Edwards becomes new Chair of Resolution

Date:4 APR 2014
Journals Manager + Online Editor

Inaugural speech decries cuts to legal aid as having 'devastating effect' on public and practitioners.

Jo Edwards, a partner at Pennington Manches, and leading DR practitioner, today became Chair of Resolution, the membership body for family law practitioners.

In her inaugural speech to over 300 delegates at the organisation's National Conference in Manchester, Jo outlined the challenges currently facing family lawyers, and what Resolution is doing to help practitioners and the public address them.

She takes over as Chair from Liz Edwards and paid tribute to her predecessor, saying 'it is remarkable how far Resolution has come over the past two years with Liz at the helm, during a time of unprecedented change'.

During her speech, Jo criticised last year's cuts to legal aid as having a 'devastating impact on our members and, more importantly, the people they had previously been able to help'.

Commenting on the fact that only eight exceptional funding applications for family cases were successful, out of 617 made in the past year, Jo added:

'We know that the promised ‘safety valve' of the availability of exceptional funding is not providing very much relief at all.'

Jo also outlined how the organisation is responding to the challenges facing its members and the separating families they seek to help, highlighting in particular:

  • the recent launch of the government-funded Family Matters service, providing free support targeted at those previously eligible for legal aid;
  • marketing support, including new logos for every Resolution member to use; and
  • a new financial product, in conjunction with Iceberg Client Credit, to provide loans at preferential rates to clients of Resolution members to help fund legal advice.

As former chair of Resolution's Dispute Resolution Committee, Jo pledged to provide support to all members, to help practitioners offering different disciplines to work more closely together, 'to provide a range of options which are seamless and focus on the clien't.

And Jo looked to the future, announcing the establishment of a new National ‘YRes' Committee for Resolution - a body to represent new and recently-qualified practitioners, bringing together the local networks that exist in Resolution's regions. She said:

'It's crucial that we all encourage the next generation of family lawyers. I'm looking to the existing YRes members in the room today to be the leaders of tomorrow.'

Jo also announced Resolution's imminent Manifesto for Family Law, which will contain a series of proposals to help improve the way separation and divorce, is dealt with in England and Wales.