Changing Landscape of Advice Provision: Online Forums and Social Media Run by McKenzie Friends

Tkacukova, Tatiana (2020) Changing Landscape of Advice Provision: Online Forums and Social Media Run by McKenzie Friends. Child and Family Law Quarterly, 4. pp. 397-420. ISSN 1358-8184

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Without an affordable option for face-to-face legal advice post-LASPO, many Litigants in Person (LIPs) turn to online sources and potentially McKenzie Friends (MFs), who are litigation friends that help LIPs on a voluntary basis or for a fee. Within the legal community, serious concerns have been serious concerns about the quality of information and advice provided by MFs online. Such concerns are especially important in private and public law children cases, where the well-being and safety of children are at stake.

The paper draws on forums and social media groups to investigate queries posted by parents and corresponding MFs’ responses. The methodological framework derives from corpus linguistics methods, which enable the quantitative identification of linguistic patterns in the posts and subsequently lead to a qualitative analysis of MFs’ functions within the area of online advice provision. The focus on linguistic framing as well as the content of responses allows for the categorisation of MFs’ roles in light of their potentially clashing communicative aims, such as addressing LIPs’ needs and supporting them with access to information and advice and at the same time establishing MFs’ professional standing in legal settings and promoting their services. The findings show that although MFs often provide useful step-by-step advice on procedural and legal matters, the linguistic framing of such advice may potentially relay negative perceptions of the justice system. The paper discusses the ramifications of this online advice provision and aims to contribute to the current debate on professionalising MFs.

Item Type: Article
25 August 2020Accepted
1 December 2020Published Online
Subjects: CAH16 - law > CAH16-01 - law > CAH16-01-01 - law
CAH19 - language and area studies > CAH19-01 - English studies > CAH19-01-07 - linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > School of English
Depositing User: Tatiana Tkacukova
Date Deposited: 07 Jan 2021 09:44
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2023 11:54

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