What We Do
Law Centre (NI) provides specialist legal support to organisations and disadvantaged individuals, in the areas of:
- social security,
- immigration and trafficking (please see note below re immigration service*),
- employment and forced labour,
- health and social care (particularly long-term care in the community, residential care, carers' rights, mental health and capacity).
It is a not-for-profit agency working to advance social welfare rights and social justice in Northern Ireland.
We are a referral organisation and normally only deal with advice queries from Law Centre member organisations.
We deliver legal services to members and support the work of advice agencies through advice, casework, training, information, publications, information-sharing practitioner meetings and policy development.
We aim to work closely with our membership of independent advice giving agencies and associate members including social services and probation offices, solicitors’ practices, trade unions and community based organisations.
We seek to promote the work of local, regional and specialist independent advice together with our Advice Services Consortium partners Advice NI and Citizens Advice.
Our work is guided by our core values: professionalism, independence, accountability, responsiveness, and a commitment to social justice and equality.
Casework: advice and representation on referral from our membership, including strategic court work and representation before the social security commissioners, industrial tribunals, immigration appellate authorities, social security tribunals and mental health review tribunals.
Policy: informed comment on public policy and legislation, lobbying and campaigning for legal reform and positive change to law and policy.
Training: courses aimed primarily at advisers, both new and experienced.
Communications: online information, briefings, bulletins, and other publications to assist advice agencies in their operation.
Practitioner groups: Quarterly practitioner meetings in social security, community care and immigration to bring together advisers to discuss legal, policy and practitioner developments.
Casework Areas of Work
Social Security: most social security benefits, representation before the social security commissioners and/or at social security appeal tribunals that raise complex/technical legal issues or points of public importance.
Community Care: legal issues surrounding provision of services, facilities or accommodation, carers' rights and other legal issues.
Employment: advice on employees' rights and representation at Industrial Tribunals.
Immigration: asylum and other complex applications to the Home Office, representation before the AIT.
*The immigration service is temporarily suspended due to funding restrictions, but we still provide immigration advice to child victims of trafficking and continue to advise on immigration-related issues in social security, employment and forced labour, community care and mental health.
Mental Health: advice and representation at the Mental Health Review Tribunal.
Interim Director: Ursula O'Hare
Assistant Director (Casework and Training): Jennifer Greenfield
Assistant Director (Organisational Services): Andrew McCracken
Policy and Communications: Ursula O'Hare
Chair: Ciaran McAteer
Other Members: Kevin Higgins, Janet Hunter, Cathal MacElhatton, Mick McAtavey, Laura Irwin, Gráinne McKeever, Pat Colton, Alec Johnston