Welcome to Norfolk Community Law Service (NCLS)
We target our services at individuals and groups, particularly those who cannot afford access to justice and representation.
This includes, for example, those with long term physical and/or mental ill-health, physical and sensory disabilities and/or learning difficulties, offenders, ex-offenders, migrant workers and others who are disadvantaged. The advice we offer is non-discriminatory and confidential.
We are a registered charity dedicated to providing access to justice and equality in Norfolk.
We provide the following services which are all free, independent and confidential. Please click on the links for more information and contact details.
- Free Legal Advice 15 minutes free initial telephone advice with a solicitor on Employment, Family* or General (civil) law matters.
- Debt Advice for vulnerable people and those with complex needs
- Welfare Benefits Advice and representation at Tribunal
- Legal Advice for Victims of Domestic Abuse
- Immigration Advice on residence in the UK and help with Home Office applications. We can also offer help with challenging Welfare Benefits Habitual Residence decisions.
Help For Ukrainians
The UK Government has announced concessions to allow Ukrainians to join family members in the UK. These applications are free of charge. NCLS are offering priority advice for these applications and will guide you through the whole process.
- Family Court Support for private law child contact matters
- Rent Arrears Mediation for Norwich City Council (NCC) housing tenants. This service is accessed by referral from NCC only
Interpreters are available for all our services by arrangement.
Click on our Impact Report read about the work we did in 2022/23.
Please note NCLS is not responsible for the content of external sites directed to from our webpage.
Free Legal Advice client
“Excellent service, so pleased I came to see you. Service, advice and staff all so useful and you’ve helped me massively. Thank you.”
Welfare Rights client
“Very impressed with the speed and efficiency of the help you gave me. The support was invaluable to me at a time when I felt unable to support myself with my appeal. “
Family Court Support Service Client
“I was so worried about things alone and felt amazed when I was approached at Court. Couldn’t have wished for anything better. Thank you”
“Yes a big thank you to all of the team at NCLS for your help I feel like a weight has been lifted. Thank you!”
Migrant Worker Client
“A great service that is easy to access and very valuable advice in complex legal situation that also changes regularly. Person delivered service much appreciated.”
Volunteer Solicitor – James Conley
I have been offering free employment law advice at the clinic for over two years now. I volunteer at the clinic because I believe everyone should have the right to access legal advice and understand their situation better.
In my time at NCLS I’ve seen individuals in the local community benefit greatly from the ability to freely ask questions about issues which fundamentally impact their lives, because even the questions with straightforward answers would otherwise have cost them hundreds of pounds to ask – money which they often simply did not have.
Volunteer Solicitor – Adam Blenkinsop
I have been a solicitor volunteer on the free legal advice rota since 2015. As with the other volunteers, I believe in the crucial importance of assisting the economically and socially vulnerable members of our society to understand, and thus enforce, the legal rights to which we are all entitled.
During the past seven years, I have experienced first-hand the ever-growing need for access to such pro bono advice, and the positive impact it can have on people’s lives.
Volunteer Solicitor – Joanna Longe
I believe I may be one of the longest-serving solicitors on the advice rota for Norfolk Community Law Service. The service is an invaluable resource for the people of Norfolk. Not only can clients obtain legal advice, but they are able to access support in preparing court applications, writing statements and how to conduct themselves in proceedings.
I chose to become involved many years ago to help people who were vulnerable, victims of abuse or because they struggled to access legal advice through more conventional routes. I am proud to be part of this exceptional service.
Volunteer Solicitor – Laura Clay-Harris
I have volunteered with NCLS for four years and hope to for many more to come. I can see the benefit of their services at every session I attend, for individuals that do not know where else to turn. The impact of their work, in a time where legal aid is limited and the cost of living is increasing, is hugely important to Norfolk.
Volunteer Solicitor – Professor Owen Warnock
I have been on the employment law-free legal advice rota for seven years. I joined because I felt I owed it to the community to provide some legal advice in my field of expertise to those who could not afford to pay for it and who were in dire need of legal help in connection with their jobs. I have found it very interesting and satisfying to do.
Every year there are many people in Norfolk who find themselves in situations at work – or who lose their jobs – in circumstances where the law is hugely relevant to what they can do in practice – yet without legal advice, they will not be able to benefit from the protections which the law in theory provides. The rota goes a little way towards tackling that problem.
Volunteer Solicitor – Ben Dures
I have been on the rota for around 8 years. I do it because I believe it makes a significant difference to the clients I see, most of whom have nowhere else to turn. It also benefits the wider community, for example, local public bodies who might otherwise become embroiled in long-running and draining disputes.
From a personal perspective, the variety of problems I advise on and the limited time allowed for each appointment, challenges me to come up with quick and creative solutions, and improves my knowledge of other services out there, for example in mental health advocacy.
I would recommend the FLA rota to any local lawyer, junior or senior, as a rewarding and interesting thing to be part of.
Volunteer Solicitor – Peter Baughan
I first volunteered for NCLS way back in the 1990s! Such a long time ago, I can’t remember the date. Over the years, demand and need for the services has soared. We deal with an increasing wide range of problems. It’s challenging but it always feels great to help people.
Volunteer Solicitor – Frances Bailey
I have provided free advice via the Family Free Legal Advice Service for approximately two years. I am passionate about access to justice and the work Norfolk Community Law Service do is vital in helping those in our community who would not otherwise be able to access legal support and advice.
Volunteer Solicitor – Robert Stronge
I’ve been on the NCLS family law free advice rota since January this year and am now on both the Norwich and Cromer rotas. I joined because I had more time available to me and wanted to be involved in the great service NCLS provides to people who otherwise may not have access to legal advice.
The rota benefits NCLS clients and the people of Norfolk by enabling them to obtain initial legal advice on their problem at no cost to themselves and then to make an informed decision as to what level of further legal assistance they require, if any, and from where to access it. The clients are very appreciative of the advice and assistance they receive.
Volunteer Solicitor – Kerry Rowell
I have worked with NCLS on their Domestic Abuse programme for a number of years. The service is invaluable and allows us as legal professionals to give back to those at their most vulnerable. Domestic abuse is a part of everyday lives and it is often children who are its most innocent victims.
Volunteer Solicitor – David Milton
‘I lost £1,000 in 45 minutes on gambling machines after self-excluding myself. I’m severely disabled and was cut out in my father’s last will. I was refused a mortgage due to an unknown CCJ for a parking penalty. My sister gave me her dog when she emigrated but now wants it back.’
These are some of the varied problems presented to me as a rota solicitor. All four went to court and favourable outcomes were achieved. On other occasions, the advice given is not what the client wants to hear. Often, while the solicitors may benefit from researching a fascinating problem or a new area of law, they cannot help beyond listening and dispensing common sense.
Fewer and fewer people can afford to seek legal advice. Today an average solicitor charges, with VAT, upwards of £200 per hour. Our FLA scheme goes a small way towards meeting this chasm of need.
Volunteer Solicitor – Simon Bransby
I have been on the rota for a long time. I have a real passion for helping people which I do in my day job, including families who may have lost a loved one, where they need help to take on an organisation who will have caused an injury or fatality, whether at work, on the road, in a public place or in a clinical setting.
Although I specialise in the fields of personal injury/clinical negligence I am lucky in having the support of a broad range of experts at Hatch Brenner who can assist where needed.
I do feel that it is really important for those who for one reason or another cannot afford their own legal representation to not be deprived of having a lawyer available to guide and assist them, even if it is “light touch” advice which points them to good old Google!
Family Service Client 1
A huge thank you to everyone for all their help and support over the last 18 months. I can’t thank you all enough. Elena, especially for the final hearing, as she was an amazing support. Thank you!
Family Service Client 2
I feel quite emotional about the support you’ve all given me and it’s such a godsend that your service exists. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!
Family Service Client 3
It was all so overwhelming. Thank you for your support and reassurance, I honestly don’t know how I would’ve gotten through that without you.
Family Court Supporter 1
I like the thought that I am giving something back to the community. I have been fortunate to have had a professional job with a decent pension. Not everyone is so fortunate so I like to give as much time as I can to support those who need it.