What are the Principles of Independent Advocacy?
November 17, 2020
Advocacy has long been a mainstay of the legal profession. Legal advocacy helps many people and to have legal support where they otherwise would not.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Independent advocacy in particular refers to legally protecting or speaking out for an individual or group. The more empowered the individual or group to find and present information for their cause, the better the advocacy.
Independent advocacy is done based on certain principles which include:
Clarity of Purpose
An independent advocate should be very vivid about how they can help with what the individual or group wants to achieve. That means that they should clearly stipulate both their capabilities and limitations.
Therefore, clients of independent advocates will not have unrealistic expectations of the advocates. On the other hand, when the advocates surpass the client’s expectations, it can be rewarding.
Clients of independent advocates typically have nowhere else to turn for legal aid. Therefore, an independent advocate should devote all their efforts to their clients and not other branches of law.
The advocate should keep their advocacy work independent of their other services. Therefore, they will be able to provide you with exactly what you ask for and their work will not be diminished or interrupted by other types of legal work.
A crucial principle of an independent advocate is confidentiality. Whatever, an independent advocate discusses with their client is absolutely private and should be kept so for safety.
If the independent advocate has to share any information to further the client’s cause, they should first talk to the client. Failure to do so may put the client and other people in danger.
An independent advocate’s work should be focused on the needs of their clients. The advocate should search for all possible information and present it to their clients. However, it is up to the client to make the final decision.
A core principle of independent advocacy is to promote self-advocacy and empower the client. The work of an independent advocate is primarily to ensure that the client believes in themselves, their case, and their abilities.
Once the clients have self-belief in themselves and their case, speaking up about their issues becomes much easier. The more empowered a client is, the better the job an independent advocate is doing.
Most independent advocates offer their services for free which makes them highly accessible to the public. As mentioned at https://www.weareecs.co.uk/social-research-insight-2, they are also often the last legal respite the client has, so it is best for them to be readily accessible to help their clients in any situation. As opposed to other legal work, independent advocacy should ensure the client understands the case completely. To achieve that, an advocate should be willing to discuss the case with the client wherever and whenever it is convenient.
Equality and Diversity
Another crucial principle of independent advocacy is to treat everyone equally and to ensure the clients receive the same treatment. Respect is a street that goes both ways and that is made very clear in independent advocacy.
An independent advocate should accept clients from as many backgrounds as possible. Discriminating cases, individuals, or groups due to bias is a breach of independent advocacy principles.
Many people don’t know the full extent of the rights the law gives them. It is up to the independent advocate to not only inform the clients of their rights but also help safeguard them.
The more clients know about their rights, the safer they can be from violations of those rights. When the rights are infringed, an independent advocate should help them safeguard those rights.
An independent advocate should always be accountable for their actions. On the other hand, they should also hold the client accountable, particularly in the eyes of the law.
The advocate should monitor and evaluate their work to see if they are doing the best job possible. They should also welcome the chance to be held accountable by their clients.
An independent advocate should help other advocates do their job in whatever capacity they can. The more help they give, the more help they will receive which will be paramount in some situations.
They should also give younger and less experienced advocates the opportunity to gain the knowledge and skills to defend other clients in the future. It is a homage and responsibility to the field of independent advocacy.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Being an independent advocate is an incredibly difficult job. However, if you follow the principles above, you should do fine. Your clients will thank you for upholding the principles. Furthermore, by upholding these principles, an independent advocate ensures that justice is done.