Socially responsible legal aid in Belgian society : time for a thorough rethink?
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Social Sciences
International journal of the legal profession. - Abingdon
, p. 67-86
University of Antwerp
The legal aid movement started from the notion of social action. Today, legal aid constitutes a highly commodified field that continues to be dominated by jurists and lawyers. For this reason, the kind of critical reflection that already exists in social work is also required in relation to the notion of legal aid as envisaged by the legal aid movement. Justiciable problems necessarily manifest themselves in a social context. An evolving community, faced with increasingly complex issues, demands a multidisciplinary approach, as it becomes clear that the traditionally deterministic view of professions ought to be abandoned. A socially responsible legal aid system therefore presupposes that various disciplines should mutually influence one another. Hence, the jurist and the social worker should not only work side by side, but they should also collaborate and mutually enhance one another's activities and approaches. There is a need for an overarching holistic approach that can reassert the legitimacy of legal aid. Looking at legal aid services in Belgium, one may conclude that a critical reflexive attitude on the part of current legal aid providers is crucial for attaining an effective socially responsible legal aid practice that stretches across the boundaries of different professional groups.