Last year also saw TLEF funding 13 new trainee lawyer posts at leading social justice organisations across the UK.
The Legal Education Foundation’s 2019 annual review (published today) shows that the charity made 80 grants to the social justice legal sector last year, worth over £6m.
The total amount invested by TLEF since its launch in 2014 is now £26.5m. Over the same period, its innovative Justice First Fellowship scheme has created 60 trainee solicitor and barrister posts at law centres, legal charities and legal aid firms. A further 21 fellows are already in post or due to start their legal training in the next few weeks.
Other key TLEF initiatives last year include publication of its ‘Digital Justice’ report, written by director of research Dr Natalie Byrom, which provides a blueprint for ensuring the government’s move to online courts delivers access to justice for all court users (p23).
The foundation’s policy and public affairs work, led by Swee Leng Harris, focused on upholding rule of law principles in two key areas: preparations for Brexit; and the use of algorithms in government decision making (p21).
In his introduction to the 2019 annual review, TLEF chief executive Matthew Smerdon says:
“We believe law should be readily available at the times and in the places where people need it. The sector remains significantly under-resourced and also faces a barrage of other challenges, ranging from increasing social needs, reform of the justice system on an unprecedented scale, and the legal uncertainty brought about by Brexit.”
January 2020 also marks the launch of TLEF’s new five-year strategy, which was developed in light of the foundation’s experience at the heart of the social justice sector over the last seven years. The strategy will be delivered through three programmes: stronger sector; fairer systems; smarter justice.
Matthew Smerdon says:
“Social justice legal organisations face a task of such scale and complexity that significant and sustained investment is needed to help them play their roles. Our new five-year strategy focuses sharply on justice and fairness, and we want to fund work where the impact will be lasting and widespread.”
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