Why we advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse

We recently posted a short video on YouTube discussing the Jimmy Savile story and how our firm can help survivors of Jimmy Savile’s abuse (the video is here).  The video soon received the following comment from user robby2k:

“now, of course, all these legal firms from the USA are acting totally altruistically on a non-profit basis. Lawyers are such nice people, who never seek to profit from the misfortune of others!”

It might seem a little strange to re-post this comment on our blog, but we know that robby2k’s views are shared by other people when they think of law firms that advocate for victims of abuse.  So we’ve taken this opportunity to write a full reply (posted here, in light of YouTube’s 500 character limit, but we’ve provided a link on the video) to robby2k’s points:

Thank you for your comment, robby2k.  You raise concerns that are very typical of people’s conceptions of law firms, particularly firms working in personal injury, and we think it’s important to address them and try to dispel any misconceptions about who we are, what we do, and why we do it.  The most important one is why we do our work.  Our firm is completely dedicated to helping survivors of historic childhood sexual abuse.  We founded our firm in 2010 with this explicit focus, well before most of the world knew of Jimmy Savile’s crimes.  The reason we started our firm is that we think the laws in England & Wales, and judicial and cultural attitudes towards survivors of sexual abuse, have much progress to make.  We want to push that progress along, by advocating for survivors and helping them to hold accountable the individuals and institutions who are responsible for their abuse, especially when institutions have not taken proper steps to protect children or report past or ongoing abuse.

Who are we as a firm? It’s true that some of us are American, but ours is a British firm that can only practise in the UK.   I think if you met us, you would decide we are nice people.  We care deeply about helping our clients and about pushing the child protection movement forward.  We contribute funds and experience to child protection charities, speak at events, and write extensively about child abuse issues on our blog, because we care about justice for survivors and protection of children going forward.

This only leaves the question of what it is we actually do.  We only represent survivors of historic child abuse in civil cases.  These are people who come to us seeking our help and guidance, many of whom have never found it within themselves to talk about their sexual abuse before to anyone.  These cases can be difficult and legally complex, and compensation provided to survivors here in the UK is significantly less than what it is in the US.  If we wanted to profit from misfortune, we would be in a different field.  Our firm exists to advocate for survivors and for their fair compensation, and we take on our clients under “No Win, No Fee” arrangements, meaning that if we do not succeed for our clients, we receive nothing.  And in cases where abuse happened many years ago, it can take a hard fight.  Our clients often find that being able to stand up against their abuser using the courts is an important part of their recovery – it allows them to stop feeling powerless, and that they are doing good for other children.

The truth is that there is not enough advocacy for survivors of historic sexual abuse.  Survivors deserve dedicated lawyers to be there for them and help them obtain the redress they need for the ill effects of abuse on their lives, including pain and suffering, lost earnings, and therapy.  We are proud of our work, and what we accomplish for our clients and for child protection.

It’s popular to dislike lawyers, and some of course deserve it.  But our experience is that child abusers and the institutions which have employed them do not, even when presented with overwhelming evidence of long-term sexual exploitation of children, say, ‘You’re right, we’re sorry, how can we make it up to you’?  Until that day comes, lawyers will be necessary.