The London Legal Walk: a show of solidarity
Times are hard in certain sections of the legal profession. There are many different views on what would be an appropriate response to the cuts in public funding scheduled to come into force in April 2013. Some believe that pro bono is a necessary safety net to protect the most vulnerable in our society where others believe that pro bono creates an hospitable environment for the cuts and if it didn’t exist those individuals would be protected by a properly funded litigation system.
Who knows which side of the argument is the right one? But it seems to me that Monday’s walk certainly shows that there is a great deal of support out there for trying to ensure vulnerable individuals, families and communities have access to free legal advice however that is provided.
6,000 lawyers got to their feet on Monday evening and walked 10 kilometres to raise money for London’s free legal advice agencies. The attorney general and solicitor general were both there. So was the master of the rolls, the lord chief justice, the heads of the Bar Council, the Law Society, and Cilex. The 50 largest law firms in London took part alongside hundreds of other teams, firms from all areas of practice and all sizes, barristers chambers, in-house counsel, courts, the charities themselves, law schools and more.
Most of the top-100 law firms were there, and if they weren’t they had a jolly good reason - I know because I emailed many of them! And this year saw many more small and medium-sized firms joining the walk. In fact we were all particularly impressed by one high street firm, Lovell Chohan, who managed to raise over £17,000 - more than any other firm in the history of the walk despite the fact they have only 12 fee earners. The walk is getting bigger every year. Clive Goodman attended the walk to report for the BBC this year, and you only have to look up #legalwalk to appreciate the excitement that has been created on Twitter.
So far this year’s walk has raised around £525,000. This money will go directly to legal advice agencies in and around London. There is no doubt that it will make a huge difference. But aside from the financial benefits, there has been a real boost in morale as a result of the walk. I work for a pro bono organisation and it means a great deal to know that all of this was in support of the sort of work that I do.
Having said that, we really do need all of the financial support that we can get so if you have a spare five minutes please do visit the LawWorks Virgin Money page...
Lia Moses is a caseworker at LawWorks, a national charity working with solicitors to support, promote and encourage a commitment to pro bono across the profession