2019 is a significant year for Slater and Gordon’s Social Work Service as it marks the 10 year anniversary of its establishment. Slater and Gordon was the first, and now the only, law firm to offer a free Social Work service of this kind to its clients.
This makes me reflect on my experience when I started my legal career as a junior lawyer at Slater and Gordon in 2001.
It did not take long to realise that the challenges my clients and their families were facing were not just related to their legal issue. There are many other issues people have to face while dealing with legal issues, and flow on effects often include;
- Financial distress, increasing debt levels, a risk of losing their home and in some cases, actual homelessness
- Mental health, including severe trauma arising from the accident itself, but also feelings of stress, anger, isolation, hopelessness and depression. And, unfortunately not uncommonly, feelings of suicide and self-harm.
- Substance abuse
- Relationship conflicts and breakdowns; and
- Refugee and immigration issues
- Family and domestic violence
I, as did my colleagues, tried to do my best to assist my clients with these complex issues and help them navigate through this tough time. Whilst I could confidently assist my clients with their legal claims, when it came to helping them with their related issues I wasn’t always certain of the best approach or where to turn to help.
It was this need, and a desire for our firm to deliver the very best outcomes for our clients – beyond their legal outcomes - that led to the development of our free Social Work Service
I distinctly remember the sense of relief I felt when Olga joined Slater and Gordon in 2009 in that I could offer my clients her specialist knowledge and services and know they were in good hands
We were able to work proactively together to address not only our mutual clients’ legal issues, but also support our clients through the significant flow on effects that their legal claims were having on their lives.
Since then, our Social Work Service has gone from strength to strength. Some highlights include:
Our social work team has grown and we provide this service to our clients nationally.
- Our Social Work team has assisted over 2,600 clients since the service started.
- Our legal teams collaborate daily with our social workers to enhance the advice, support and outcomes we deliver to our clients.
- Over the years, our lawyers and social workers have partnered to shape broader policy debates and provide important advocacy for our clients on broader legislative reform issues.
- We have established an extensive free legal education program for social workers, including presentations, newsletters and publications.
After 10 years, the Social Work Service is firmly embedded in Slater and Gordon because the organisation has seen the wide-ranging benefits of their support, for both clients and their lawyers. We at the firm look forward to the continued benefit of these valuable services