The legal education charity established when the College of Law sold out to private equity has so far distributed only about £5m – two years after receiving a £200m windfall, it has emerged.
Matthew Smerdon, chief executive of the Legal Education Foundation, told Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg that just over £5m has been allocated to nearly 70 projects. But he defended the organisation’s caution, stressing that the foundation is here for the long-term.
The fund’s investment managers have been instructed to preserve the value of the fund in real terms, while producing an annual income of 3.5%. Net of staffing costs, and with interest rates at a record low, the body said it now aims to distribute £5.5m a year in grants, having not completed the task of fully investing the fund until the end of 2013.
Smerdon denied that the charity was hanging on to funds unnecessarily: ‘We are spending every pound that we can.’
One of the foundation’s most far-reaching projects is a fellowship called Justice First, which aims to increase access to the profession while advancing mobility and diversity. It aims to fund 10 fellows a year over 10 years.