Fri | Mar 23, 2018

Treated like beggars at Legal Aid Clinics

Published:Saturday | August 13, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The Legal Aid service has got to be one of the worst government institutions I have ever come across, with regards to customer service.

The downtown office can be compared to no less than a patty box - no pun intended, as they do sell patties there.

The receptionist displayed little evidence of formal training in customer service and was rude, abrupt and very tardy. Not one member of staff with whom I have communicated aids anyone with even the simplest of questions pertaining to legal matters. The place is dingy, untidy, unkempt and certainly not welcoming to anyone.

I had the opportunity to accompany a colleague who was seeking assistance regarding a legal matter, and it was futile. I can only say that the director, Norman Mills, has the heart and mind to assist. However, with that team, he will never amount to any success.

My colleague was so frustrated with the matter that he had to transfer his case to the Legal Aid Clinic at University of the West Indies, Mona.

We visited the location and were in awe at the beautiful offices and comfortable environment, but were we in for a surprise or - for want of a better word - appalled! This one was even more disappointing than that of the downtown location.

The receptionist's behaviour was most insulting to the clientele. She raised her voice and her treatment of clients could be justifiably interpreted as condescending. In the Legal Aid Clinic, it seems people are given no respect because, obviously, they cannot afford to hire a prominent lawyer. At the time of writing on Thursday, it had been six days that my colleague had been trying to get an appointment to see the lawyer, and, might I add, he was merely seeking to make an appointment. While his matter is escalating and he is running out of time to go before the court, the unprofessional discourtesy continues.

I am personally disgusted and sickened at the service. I can only imagine how heart-wrenching it would be for me to have to deal with such unprofessionalism. I hope the director at UWI's Legal Aid Clinic, Mr Sanders, seeks to address this matter as soon as possible, as I will be writing again.