I was part of the team commissioned to research the quality of asylum legal advice provided by solicitors, by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Legal Ombudsman and Unbound Philanthropy.
Together with Migration Work CIC, Refugee Action and Asylum Research Consultancy, we interviewed 123 people who were seeking asylum, plus lawyers, NGO workers, legal aid officials and others with knowledge of the field. My part of the work was a review of 45 case files according to modified peer review criteria.
What I found from my file reviews was that there are some brilliant, committed solicitors out there doing excellent work for the most vulnerable of clients, but having to struggle against a funding and auditing regime which constantly puts obstacles in their way. That was part of what led to my PhD research.
At the same time, there was some appalling work out there, where firms appear to process clients without adding any value to the case. In legal aid work, quality ran the full range from excellent to poor, whereas with private firms it seemed there was excellent work and awful work, and very little in between.