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Solicitors that are worse than the LEA!?!

(21 Posts)
hoxtonbabe Thu 02-May-13 08:45:37


For the last 5 months I have been in a constant battle not with the LEA, but in fact legal advisors/solicitors that seem to think it is funny to take on my file then do nothing despite my son not receiving any of the provision in his statement from November 2012 to date anf him leaving school this time next year and this was following an order by a judge!

SO far to date:

Solicitor 1: left firm, case was transferred to immigration PARALEGAL..bad enough it was an immigration person, but even worse a PL

Advisor 2: Not only did she commission a barrister that advised that the panel do not need to explain significant decisions they make (which I know is incorrect) she also advised that despite the panel accepting my late evidence which basically showed the LEA witness asking the LEA what she should write in her report to favour their case which totally goes against the SEND witness guidelines, and the witnesses ethics code that one must adhere to, they also put more weight on this evidence, which is beyond crazy..barrister said it doesn't matter. Judge also used wrong test, which barrister acknowledged but said the new test that replaced the old one that was used was not much different so it doesnt matter?!? to add insult to injury the barrister also did not get the advice to my legal advisor within the instructed time, which then caused me to miss any deadlines if I wanted to get a second opinion. Advisor then suddenly vanished one day and was told they were unsre if they had capacity to continue with my case

Advisor 3: So upon explaining the difficulties and odd decisions/advice I had been receiving person 3 takes it on, and initially in agreement with what I was pointing out and although out of Upper Teir time, she said if what I wa saying was correct she would try and get it looked and and if nothing else at least get the factual issues corrected...rather than saying she could not grasp my case and was overwhelming, she decides to back track on advice she was giving and despite the LEA not putting the provision in place and my being entitled to Legal aid, she did not see the need to go down the JR route, which was already started by the previous advisor that vanished, she also said she did nto see the point in applying to have the factual innacuracies ammended as it would make no difference to my son (he was diagnosed with dyscalculia which panel accepted, but REFUSED to put in the statement..he was graded at a worse level than what was in the LEA evidence at the appeal following an order to retest him for Maths, but Panel decided to stick with the higher original grade on his statement)

Advisor then basically says unless I agree with all her now questionable advice she can not act for off I go again, to which she was ok with by the looks of things.

Solictor 4: Explained all the issues, they say fime, I stress about the amount of time that has lapsed and the fact DS has limiterd time..they take it on, I send a very small bundle as I only want them to deal with the LEA and schools refusal to implement the support, I sent them no more than 200 pages of paperwork which is nothing in the grander scheme of things, they have now had my papers for almost 6 weeks and they have not done anything, they do not get back to me when I email, and despite the manager apparently now dealing with it, it has not been dealt with, and I am once again spending more time chasing the solictor than the people that really matter such as the LEA

What did I do in previous life to deserve all this?!?! Has anyone else encountered this and how did you resolve it?

Thx, HB

StarlightMcKenzie Thu 02-May-13 11:03:13


I'm so sorry. I share your concerns about the legal firms. They get away with it because the law is so freely flouted in this regard and poorly regulated.

moosemama Thu 02-May-13 11:33:16

I am angry and sad for you that you have had all that to deal with.

Best advice I can offer is to call IPSEA, explain your situation and see if they will allocate you a case worker. They are all fully qualified legal bods and we found them invaluable.

Alternatively, look/ask around your area to see if there are any independent SEN advocates, they tend to be much more on the ball, with greater understanding of the problems the system presents and how to approach dealing with them. They also tend to have a good range of contacts who can offer additional advice and expertise.

ouryve Thu 02-May-13 12:28:10

FFS, hoxton, I do hope you've not been charged for all this shite sad

babiki Thu 02-May-13 13:08:35

Awful sad I can recommend Levenes, they are brilliant and do legal aid. Or ask Ipsea for other recommendations. .

bunnybb Thu 02-May-13 13:34:35

Strronly recommend Fiona Slomovic, she is very good at negotiating and knows her stuff.

240pages Thu 02-May-13 14:54:52

That sounds appalling. I wonder if you might be able to put in a complaint to the appropriate legal body, there must be some organisation which oversees this sort of thing?

I went to a talk last month by a solicitor from Maxwell Gillott, she said that their firm and the Children's Legal Centre are the only two in the country now which will take a legal aid case for SEND. I think Levenes have stopped doing legal aid since the funding changes were brought in.

I've heard mixed reviews about MG, the solicitor I heard was very good but she wouldn't be taking a legal aid case. I have to admit the more positive reviews I've heard have come from parents who were able to fund their case and I think you do get a second-rate service if you're relying on legal aid funding, probably because the time that the funding pays for is not really enough to deal with the case adequately. I know that legal aid cases often get allocated to the less qualified staff which is really unfair, as families who qualify for this in the first place are usually the most vulnerable and least able to advocate for themselves sad.

hoxtonbabe Thu 02-May-13 15:00:44

Thanks Folks..

Ipsea wont touch my case, because it is now so tangled so to speak, Levines, I will not say much about as the solicitor there has been helpful to me in the past, but when I tried to approach him about this he basically blanked my emails.

~I was thinking of Fiona, but I know she is very busy with upcoming hearings as June onwards gets very manic.

I really dont know what to do, I am sitting home watching the school and LEA refuse to do what is required by law, and the people that are supposed to be helping me are also refusing..I hate the legal aid system, as it is almost as if I should expect and accept shoddy work/advice. I do have some money from family, but would need to be an advocate rather than a solicitor as they tend to be cheaper, but finding one that is not going to screw me over is another issue

babiki Thu 02-May-13 15:19:03

Hoxtonbabe, maybe you mean the same one from Levenes that I am using now, yes he is notoriously bad with emails - I just leave messages and write letters now.. But he is still doing legal aid and gave me very good price for Tribunal representation.
But of course, I agree, the system is total shit in all respects.

hoxtonbabe Thu 02-May-13 16:15:35

Hi Babkiki, I dont know who you are using now but there are only 2 men in their education dept so can only be one or the other. I came across a thread from earlier this year whilst doing a search yesterday and this person was not getting good recommendations, and something about the judges/panels getting fed up with his antics...i hope it is not a levines solicitor.

He cant take on LA anymore...only Maxwell G, NYAS (and even they are coming to an end) and Coram who have been the most difficult and unhelpful of the entire lot and that was just when i was seeking general advice, so I dread to think what they are like when they actually take on your file that will do LA..

Don't ya just love this current government.

inappropriatelyemployed Thu 02-May-13 17:47:00

I have had poor experiences too, despite being a lawyer!

I would thoroughly recommend Irwin Mitchell. Powerful national firm with great contacts with barristers chambers who may do hearings pro bono.

Feisty, intelligent, committed, creative and will go where angels fear to tread. I have been thoroughly impressed and I am NOT easily impressed.

nostoppingme Fri 03-May-13 00:32:56

Sorry I haven't read your post completely (I am dyslexic, very emotional day today and I'm exhausted)


In hindsight I wish I never ever had contacted a solicitor. The one I instructed was a crook, an absolute crook. He was worse than the school and LA. I could take being taken for a ride by the school and LA but not by a solicitor who I thought would be on my side and work for me. I was working for him and did all the leg work. And paying him for the privilege. Thankfully I got rid of him after LA backed down and commenced statutory assessment. I then contacted another solicitor who quoted me some outrageous sum of money and even had the audacity to say we would not have a happy ending. I could smell a rat and was not going to be fooled again. Another firm (Irwin Mitchell) quoted me £1000+VAT just to look at my proposed statement, what a joke!

I then realised moving forward was best without a legal firm, and I used an advocate instead. My legal fees were the grand total of £6k. Not bad considering I was quoted up to at least £20k by other firms.

And I got my independent specialist school.

Apologies that I haven't read your whole post. And sorry I don't mean to brag either about how much I spent on legal fees. I spent a small fortune on independent reports ... I think it's important to highlight for all the other desperate parents out there, solicitors are in it for the money and to please be careful who you instruct.

hoxtonbabe Fri 03-May-13 18:36:53

My goodness to hear all these stories and I really don't understand these people. I remember my first solicitor in this mess that was dealing with my matter for almost a year but then she left, we didn't always see eye to eye but we got through things and I look back now can can see she had my back and was trying her best for my son given the crappy legal aid rates she had to deal with, now I am being messed about left, right and centre.

The crooks that have my case now are not responding to my emails or anything and they think I will not complain but I will and will be letting the LSC in on the complaint also, as they are not keen on paying out at the best of times and certainly not going to be chuffed about this solicitor firm more than likely claiming for work they have not done.

Irwin Mitchell were very expensive and also going on about not taking on the file as I am entitled to LA...I keep stressing that I cant force the donkey to drink from the stream, and if I cant access LA due to the 3 legal firms saying no (not because I don't have a case, but they cant be arsed) , then are you saying I should not have a right to legal justice if family members are willing to pay for their gransdon/nephew to get the support he deserves and legally entitled to as they are so fed up of seeing the LEA and School completely ignoring the law?

The latest BS from the school is "we are giving your son a mentor as he is underachieving in certain subjects"

Why the hell don't you give him the provision as per the statement then he wont need a mentor..they have not done ANYTHING in the statement since November 2012 despite my letters, etc..and now they have the audacity to say he is underachieving in a couple of subject, and still refuse to put the proviosn in place. As I write this and read it back i am welling up in tears because it is so wrong on so many levels.

Nostoppingme: Which advocate did you use? PM if you prefer.

Thanks Folks.

StarlightMcKenzie Fri 03-May-13 18:50:37

Good grief! I'm so sorry. I'm afraid I don't know what to sugggest.

I've known for a while that parents are on the whole, screwed from the start and that the solicitors that deal with SEN mostly lazy-arses that want off-the-shelf cases and not anything they might have to do additional ground work.

And why should they? When the law is so blatently flouted in such simple ways they can make a mint just sticking to those for minimum effort and maximum fees.

I am angry with them for sure, but it is the corrupt system that allows this.

hoxtonbabe Fri 03-May-13 19:10:49

I agree with you 110% on that one starlight! As soon as I mention that my case is not so straightforward or I explain the constant failures from both school, LEA and not other solicitors then I have had it, they then simply either backtrack or as in my current position, just not bother responding to me whatsoever despite getting me to sign a contract...

Half the problem I have is that I come across as if I can handle it all myself, because I am not totally clueless.

what they are not realizing is that I am in bloomin psychotherapy (WEEKLY) cos of all this, and in addition taking 40mg of anti depressants, anti anxiety medication, sleeping pills and blood pressure pills ALL DAILY, my concentration levels are shot and it is only becasue I have been dealing with this since 2009 that some of what I know has stuck/in grained so to speak before things became really bad in 2001, but to learn or tackle anything new is extremely difficult for me, so I think they hear me and think "pah...she can do this herself as its too much work for us"

Even my therapist is baffled by all this and it has made her realise just how crap and difficult the system for SEN is

hoxtonbabe Fri 03-May-13 19:12:53

I mean 2011 things got bad not 2001..I long of the days of 2001, when times were good and had a slightly better government

inappropriatelyemployed Fri 03-May-13 20:22:46

Who did you contact at IM? Honestly my experience has been very different and they have done a lot of work for free or at very basic cost. PM if you want details of who've I've instructed.

You get bad and you get good in all professions but I have also been appalled at the poor level of professionalism of many lawyers in the education game. It's not as if most of them are pushing back legal boundaries. They are plodding, bureaucrats who instruct barristers to do the advocacy. Yet still charge thousands.

Chris Barnett is reliable and decent. Quite pricey.

Some advocates (who are not lawyers) are very good and effective but don't expect them to know or take every legal point. They are perfectly capable at handling most Tribunal cases though and half the price at least. Have you tried FS?

hoxtonbabe Fri 03-May-13 20:55:33

Im not sure whom I spoke with but the man was just waffling on about it wouldn't be appropriate to take on my case and charge me (but would rather the LEA and school break the law!?!)

CB, bless him, he does try and help me wherever he can, I was chatting with him earlier, however as my case will be looking at a JR, this is where it can become costly so really need to think about if my bank of mummy and sister can keep up with the cost and the possibility although VERY unlikely as they are blatantly not providing the provision,( not even a case of us trying to prove it ) of being liable for cost sif I lose

FS is busy, although I did not approach her on this particular issue, but I contacted her a few weeks back about my youngest sons IEP and the schools failure to follow through on their duty (yes both my sons have difficulties, and also battling with the primary school) and she was saying she didn't have capacity :-(

I really have tried everyone I can think of. The other issue is some of the provision in the statement is proving impossible for the LEA to put in place, which to me/logic would suggest the statement will have to be looked at so DS can actually get the provision, now it really could be a case of the LEA not trying hard enough but so far so good 2 NHS SLT's will not go into the school the independent SLTs they commissioned have said it is beyond their amount of JR or LGO or Secretary of state can remove the fact that the provision the stupid judge ordered in the statement is difficult to implement due to the wording etc..even the last therapist said it was a really bad statement with regards to the SLT provision which is his main area of need, so why go through all that, to fight for something that is proving a bugger to implement from the get go,

Somethines I really think I am going mad of my rationale is so off key on this matter.

On the upside, the bi*ch SLT that refused to keep notes and colluded with the school for over a year then said my son didn't need any support without any evidence will be having her HPC hearing soon. The other B**ch LEA speech therapist that decided to ask the LEA what she should put in her tribunal report, omit cruicial information which the SENCO told her that the school would not put the provision for my son in place because she did not see the need, warn the school about not keeping any records of progress when I was asking so told the senco to be aware as the Panel may ask to which out of nowhere generic (not even specific for my DS) reports suddenly sprung up but the senco is so daft the dated it a few days after the SLT contacted the email so clearly only came about following the SLT alerting her, and then go on to put in her report that the school could and was meeting his needs is also now being investigated by the HPC. Immoral, disgusting excuse of a human that she is.

2tirednot2fight Sun 12-May-13 01:50:46

Have you found a better lawyer yet hoxtonbabe, I have no suggestions but wondered if you have had any better luck yet? Sounds like you have been through the mill with lawyers that should be helping not hindering?

bjkmummy Sun 12-May-13 10:52:36

what an absolute nightmare for you. i have been through similar over the years - i have 2 children as well with SEN. a salt completely screwed me over years ago withmy younger son - i wish now after reading this that i had reported her to the HPC because all of the crap i have been through over the last 7 years go back to her actions way back then. i am now in the position where my boys have finally got the right provision but been a hell of a battle. because of my experiences that is why i am now going to start to do a law degree in october and then once qualified i will be able to help other parents through this load of crap. i was also goingto complain about everything that has happened re younger son and his tribunal but have decided to walk away as we have won the placement we wanted and taht has hurt the LA more than anything but now kindda starting to regret it as their behaviour is still appalling and i have been asked to stay away from a local support group meeting where the autism outreach person will be as i will make her feel awkward as she basically lied and edited documents during the tribunal and we cant have her feeling uncomfortable because she cannot look me in the eye over the way she behaved can we? no - lets just isolate mum instead. disability social worker who disappeared the whole time tribunal was under way advised me may be best for me to consider future transition events where the staff from the LA will be is worth attending due to how the LA officers feel about me......... so im guessing keeping quite and going and get qualified is a better way of doing things. cant beleive that me - a humble mum can instill such acrimionous feelings from the LA officers - they behave more like children than my own children

hoxtonbabe Sun 12-May-13 23:16:34

Nope..things are just as grim as per usual. Actually in the middle of writing my formal compkaint.

I now have the added fun of the youngest DS school and speech therapist playing have actually contributed to my sons decline due to their refusal of tracking his SLT progress that they say they are in control off yet no paperwork showing how they are suppoting him, nor has his IEP been updated since he started the school so off I go through the stages of complaints up to the DfE and Ofsted as this DS does not have a statement.

It also looks like I will be dragging this therapist to the HPC also as she is refusing to reopen his file despite his delay going from only 3 months a year ago to now being a 10 month delay and his speech production not improving in the slightest. So despite no progress and a decline in areas, the school not having a clue on how to properly support him she does not see the need to intervene and she recommends that the school who can't even track progress, deteriorated since being there nor do any of the recommendations that were given last October the best place to implement...tut,tut,tut...

Cheeky moo apparently said to head that she doesn't understand why his inde Assesment called for direct work given his levels..that's because unlike you, they have taken ALL the evidence into account, looked at his previous test results, the family history and the lack if bloomin progress!

fitness to practice is calling me...

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