The Legal Education Foundation last year funded 15 new trainee lawyer posts in the legal aid sector at a cost of £1.25m. Over all the sector received £5m in grants supporting advice agencies, law centres and universities which represented a 16% increase on previous year.
The foundation made 91 grants in 2017 compared to 79 grants in the previous year. It has now made grants of £15m since it was set up. ‘Drawing all The Legal Education Foundation’s work together is a driving belief in the role of the law as a tool to solve people’s problems,’ wrote Matthew Smerdon in his introduction to the annual review. ‘This underscores the urgency of finding ways to integrate and embed effective legal education and legal services in the places where people most need them.’
Some 15 new trainee solicitors have been recruited to 15 leading social justice organisations, including Liberty, Deighton Pierce Glynn, North Kensington Law Centre and Coram Children’s Legal Centre under the TLEF’s Justice First Fellowship scheme. TLEF chief executive Matthew Smerdon said that, as of this month, TLEF has supported 52 Fellowships.
Grants made during 2017 include:
- North Kensington Law Centre (£67,000): To enable its dedicated Grenfell Response Team to provide immigration, housing, and public law advice and to conduct strategic litigation;
- Legal Aid Practitioners Group (£146,000): To develop a programme of practice management training;
- UCL Centre for Access to Justice (£65,000): To support research into how resolving legal problems can lead to improvements in people’s health;
- Disability Rights UK (£98,000): To create an online interactive guide to increase disabled people’s understanding of their legal rights.
One of the largest grants goes to Rightsinfo (£180,000) to establish the ‘RightsInfo News Service’ to ‘react to breaking news stories with legally accurate, engaging and plain-English comment’.
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