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NICRAS Project Coordinator – Legal Services Guidelines for Asylum Seekers in NI

Napier & Sons’ Associate Solicitor, Maria McCloskey, has been appointed to the role of Project Coordinator of this exciting and much anticipated initiative with NICRAS. The role, funded by the Minority Ethnic Development Fund of The Executive Office, will involve the development of best-practice guidelines to ensure that asylum seekers are fully aware of their entitlement to legal representation and what they can expect from their legal representatives and the service being provided. The project will also provide information, feedback and training to legal practitioners working in the field of immigration law, focusing on the area of client care. The aim is to guarantee asylum seeker clients the same great standard of service as other clients, and provide an opportunity for legal practitioners to look at their processes and make adjustments where necessary.

As a practicing solicitor, a member of the newly formed ‘Immigration Practitioners’ Group’ of the Law Society, and currently working on a dissertation in the area of immigration (for a Masters in Human Rights Law At QUB), Maria is uniquely placed to lead this project for NICRAS.

Commenting on the role, Maria said “I am very excited about this project and believe that it has come at a crucial time, as work in the area of immigration law is increasing and when legal aid funding is being reduced. It is vital that all members of our community have equal access to quality legal services, and we must aspire to attain the highest possible standards, particularly for those more vulnerable members of our society. I would like to thank Napier & Sons for their support in accommodating me to take up this role. It is often said that employers should ensure personal development and enhance the skills and experiences of their employees, but less often are those sentiments followed through in reality. Such foresight, and indeed corporate social responsibility, is only to be commended”.

Funding has been secured for one year, until March 2018. It is hoped that guidelines will be available from early 2018, with training events due to be delivered throughout the course of the intervening months. If you believe that you can contribute to the project in any way, through resources, data or experience, Maria would be delighted to hear from you and can be contacted at nicraslegalproject@gmail.com.

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