An emergency appeal to support the legal advice sector during the pandemic has smashed its fundraising target and raised nearly half a million pounds in just under two months.
The Emergency Advice Appeal, set up by the Access to Justice Foundation and London Legal Support Trust in April, had a £400,000 target. It has now raised £442,665.
Donors include the Law Society, magic circle firms Linklaters and Allen & Overy, Leigh Day, Hogan Lovells, Brabners, Womble Bond Dickinson and Mills & Reeve. The first £200,000 was matched by the Access to Justice Foundation and other funders.
The money will go towards the Community Justice Fund, which was set up by six grant-giving foundations and received £2.4m from the Treasury. The Law Centres Network received £3m from the Treasury and aligned its funding to the justice fund to give grants of up to £100,000 to specialist legal advice centres.
Over £600,000 has been awarded to advice charities including Child Poverty Action Group, Disability Law Service, Brighton Housing Trust, Just for Kids Law, Welsh Housing Aid, Mary Ward Legal Centre, Norfolk Community Law Centre and JustRight Scotland.
Ruth Daniel, chief executive of the Access to Justice Foundation, said: ‘In these unprecedented times, access to free legal advice is more essential than ever, so we’re really grateful for the generosity we have seen from our supporters in this time of national emergency. Whilst the appeal has played an essential role in providing emergency funding to legal advice organisations impacted by Covid-19, we know that our work is far from over.’
Law Society president Simon Davis said: ‘Access to Justice underpins the rule of law. Legal rights and obligations are mere dust if there are no means to uphold them. I am delighted that the Law Society and so many others have helped the foundation reach this fundraising milestone.’
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.