How RLAS provides its advice service
This page provides information on how Richmond Legal Advice Service (RLAS) sees and helps clients:
- RLAS is open each Tuesday between 8pm to 9.30pm in Richmond. For dates when RLAS is closed.
- it is not necessary to telephone ahead or make an appointment
- you are normally (but not always) seen in order of arrival
- RLAS aim is that you spend between 10 to 20 minutes with an advisor, depending on the problem and the number of other clients who are waiting
- if necessary or appropriate, we may ask clients to come to another RLAS advice session, to obtain further advice or assistance elsewhere, or refer the client elsewhere to obtain advice and assistance. For alternatives sources of help.
How to find RLAS
For details on our location, how to reach us, how to access/use the premises RLAS uses and maps go to the Our Location page
Helping us to help you
Before coming to a RLAS advice session, the following are some of the things a client can do to maximise the benefit they will get at an advice session:
- bringing all relevant papers (and sorting them in a logical order)
- if the matter is complex or there are a lot of facts, please summarise the main points, or the particular issue that legal advice and assistance is required on (as far as it is possible to do so)
- allow the volunteer adviser to guide and control the interview and decide what the relevant documents are and what information needs to be provided
- complete our client contact form before attending an advice session. Which is available in two versions: A version which can be printed to paper and completed by hand or a version which completed on screen and then printed to paper
Below are some limitations about the extent to which we can help you and our ability to see all clients
Limitation on the extent we can help a client
Because of the limited time available it may mean that an adviser cannot give a definitive view on your problem.
If the problem is legally complex or there are a lot of facts or papers to go through then sometimes all the adviser we can do at that session is to try to give a “common sense” answer pointers or refer you on.
No legal adviser can hope to be an expert or to have detailed knowledge on all areas of law.
Therefore, if you problem concerns an area of law which is outside the experience of the volunteers present on the night a client attends, RLAS may not be able to help at that session and the client may need to return or go to another advice agency.
We do not (and are not able) to ‘take on’ cases in the same way that a firm of solicitors can. We cannot prepare letters, fill in forms or prepare any documents for you or on your behalf. If you do need to write a letter, fill in a form or prepare a document, then we can make some suggestions (which you may or may not choose to adopt) regarding the content and format, but only while you are with the legal adviser during the very limited time he or she can spend with you (about 10–15 minutes). Our legal advisers may look at a letter, form or document you have prepared and suggest amendments, but again only during the limited time the legal adviser can spend with you.
Because we are only open one evening a week, we also cannot provide or confirm in writing what a legal advisor has discussed with, or told, you.
Limitation on RLAS’ ability to see clients
RLAS aims to see all clients that come to a session. RLAS does not have a booking system, it is a drop-in clinic service. However, the number of clients who come to sessions keeps increasing.
For example RLAS is now seeing more than 3 times the number of clients it saw in 2010. Some weeks more than 15 people come seeking our help. We have tried to meet this increase by having more volunteer lawyers available at an advice session.
However, please bear the following in mind:
- we normally see people in the order the arrive at the RLAS session (each person is given a sheet they need to fill in and which as a number on it). However, it is not always possible to see people in that order, as the next lawyer available may not be the best lawyer to see the next client waiting to be seen.
- the higher the number on the sheet you are given the longer it is likely you will need to wait, but:
- if you have a number between 5 to 10 then it is likely you will need to wait around 30 minutes to 45 minutes to see a lawyer
- f you have a number higher than 10 you will need to wait at least 1 hour to see a lawyer.
- As stated our aim is to see all clients. However, given the increase in the number of people coming to our sessions this is sometimes impossible. Points to note:
- if you have a sheet with a number higher than 10, 11 or 12 then there is a good chance that a RLAS lawyer volunteer may not been able to see you at all on a particular evening
- RLAS will not be able to tell you this until the near the end of the session (ie until after 9pm, sometimes not until 9.30pm) if you will be seen
- if you have a sheet with a number higher than 10 you may prefer to come back to another session or go to another advice giving organisation
- if you wish to come back, you may wish to arrive earlier than 8pm.
Last updated: 11 April 2017