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January 2011



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 Photo: Mark Lever at Exchange Chambers

The National Autistic Society (NAS) has launched a new partnership with Exchange Chambers – our first ever partnership with a Barristers’ Chambers.

Barristers from Exchange Chambers will work with our Advocacy for Education service to provide representation for parents who wish to challenge decisions made by their local authority. These decisions may be about their child’s educational needs or provision at the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal (SENDIST).

As part of their pro bono programme Exchange Chambers will provide free legal representation, where appropriate, for parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder who are challenging decisions at SENDIST.

Launching the initiative, Bill Braithwaite QC, joint head of Exchange Chambers said:

“We are excited and honoured to be the first Barristers Chambers to enter into a Pro Bono partnership with the NAS.

“Our barristers have now received their training from the NAS and we have already achieved two early successes on behalf of parents of children with autism.”

Mark Lever, NAS Chief Executive, said:

“Children with autism are often bullied and excluded at school. They have so many hurdles to overcome and their educational needs at a young age are life defining.”

“The pressures on parents of children who have autism are also immense so this partnership with Exchange Chambers can make a huge difference.

“We are not asking for any favours, we are just seeking a level playing field.  Parents need support to challenge decisions.  It is not fair or right to make them go it alone so the support of one of the country’s leading Barristers Chambers is ground breaking for us.”

The Pro Bono partnership has been championed by Exchange Chambers’ Director of Chambers Tom Handley and barrister David Knifton, both of whom have children with autism.

To contact our Advocacy for Education service, call 0845 070 4002 or visit www.autism.org.uk/advocacy

Source:  http://www.nas.org.uk/nas/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=253&a=21464

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