When I think of No-win-no-fee lawyers I instantly become enraged with the frustrating phrase ‘have you had an accident at work that was not your fault’ playing around and tormenting me in my mind. I think you will agree with me when I say listening to them drone on about how much money they could save you is enough to make anyone’s blood boil but despite their rotten reputation it seems they are actually more good than harm!
Recent studies by Simon Deakin, a Cambridge University law professor along with co-authors writing in the Cambridge Journal of Economics have revealed that the people behind those soul destroying ads have actually given us women a real helping hand when it comes to the enduring battle for pay equality. According to Deakin, an “unprecedented increase in the number of claims” was “triggered in part by the entry of no-win, no-fee law firms into this part of the legal services market” after a change in the law.
Since the publication of high-street legal companies through TV ads, Deakin explains that there has been a massive spike in the number of women taking their employers to tribunals over male to female pay differences with cases rising from approximately 8,00 a year in 2004-05 to over 60,000 cases from 2007-2008. The significant increase has led to praising of the no-win, no-fee lawyers for their ‘proactive role in shaping the operation of human rights laws in ways that assist their intended beneficiaries.’
Although the paper was very complimentary of high-street legal companies, it did not paint particular unions in a very pretty picture, claiming that many unions, especially local authorities have negotiated collective agreements ‘that preserved discriminatory practice.’ Following pressure from society with regards to pay inequality it has led to local governments and public health services changing the way in which they bargain pay packets from selective pay agreements to a collective bargaining agreement. This makes it easier to tell where women are being underpaid and reform can be reviewed. From this example it was evident that unions were previously following Robbins (2005) bargaining zone theory as it allows them to ensure female employees sign an agreement, which is to the unions benefit.
I never in a million years thought I would be praising no-win, no-fee lawyers, but as my graduation is quickly approaching it is time I start looking for my ‘big girl’ job and pay inequality will unfortunately become a harsh reality as it has already for millions before me.
As always, I would LOVE to hear your views or hear any stories about how pay inequality has affected you through the poll and comment box below.