Best Foot Forward

Natalia Rymaszewska and Julia Jones explain the benefits of the sponsored  walks being undertaken by lawyers all over the country

The London Legal Walk is a superb opportunity to come together with fellow lawyers from across the whole profession, and to do so for a very deserving cause. I am looking forward to seeing many more chambers and in-house counsel teams joining us for this year’s walk in support of the great work of our pro bono and legal advice agencies 
Dominic Grieve QC MP, Attorney General

 

London Legal Walk
Described by the President of the Supreme Court as the “social and sporting event of the legal calendar” the London Legal Walk must be one of the largest gatherings of lawyers in the world, with over 5,000 taking part in 2011. Organised by the London Legal Support Trust, the London Legal Walk is a 10km sponsored walk around some of the capital’s legal landmarks but it is only one of a series of similar walks held around England and Wales. Teams representing chambers, solicitors’ firms, courts, law colleges or in-house legal departments raise funds to provide free legal advice.

In 2011, 342 teams raised £497,000 which was distributed to 82 legal charities, including law centres, advice agencies, Citizens Advice and pro bono organisations in and around London and the South East. The trust also helps agencies and partners them with law firms and chambers where appropriate.


2012: a crucial year

Law centres, advice agencies and Citizens Advice work hard to try to ensure that vulnerable people have a way of accessing justice through a mixture of legal aid, funding from local authorities, charitable donations and by using pro bono volunteers.

Receiving the legal advice they need makes a huge difference to people’s lives, reducing debt, poverty and homelessness, and combating discrimination and injustice. You can read some examples of the cases that the money the walk has raised has helped on our website (www.londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk).


Whose company will you be in?

2012’s London walk will be on May 21, setting off from 5pm from the Royal Courts of Justice. “Lead” walkers include the Lord Chief Justice, the Master of the Rolls, the chairman of the Bar, the DPP, the president of the Law Society, the Attorney General, the president of CILEx and the chairman of the Legal Services Board.
It is also a fantastic social occasion with walkers coming back year after year. We hope you will join them.

In 2011, 68 chambers took part in London, a record. This year we hope that even more will become involved, and that someone will out-do Keating Chambers who raised £7,011 last year.

Please consider whether your chambers could gather a team – one person, willing to rally some colleagues, really can make all the difference.

If you would like to join in any of the walks or find out more about London Legal Support Trust please email: legalwalk@llst.org.uk. ?


Midland Legal Support Trust Walk

In September 2008 the first Midland Legal Support Trust Walk took place in Birmingham and raised £12,000. Since then the 10k legal walk in Birmingham has become a well-established part of Birmingham legal community’s calendar each year.

The regional walks have benefitted from a snowball effect from the London Legal Walk and the Birmingham walk prompted a dedicated group of lawyers and judges in Nottingham to set up their own 10k legal walk in 2009 and the two walks together raised £20,000. Since then the two MLST walks have gone from strength to strength and have raised thousands of pounds year on year for advice agencies across the Midlands.


Recent grants

Sadly, the national picture of legal advice service closures has been reflected in the Midlands despite the fundraising efforts of the trust. Some of the grants made have been specifically to simply help keep the doors open, for example a recent grant of £10,000 was made to Birmingham Law Centre, the last law centre in the City. Previously Birmingham Law Centre has received a grant for a new photocopier, which every lawyer knows is essential. Other grants have been for specific projects. A grant of £6,400 was made to Coventry Law Centre to help it launch and develop a community care law advice service for vulnerable people. Framework in Nottingham has received grants to help it extend its free specialist legal advice, representation and support service for vulnerable people in Nottinghamshire who are at risk of homelessness through repossession and eviction.


Incredible support

As in London, the local Bar has been incredibly supportive of both the Birmingham and Nottingham walks. Barristers from the two largest sets in Birmingham are trustees of MLST. One of them, Lance Ashworth QC, who is the chairman of trustees, says: “Given the current programme of cuts, it is becoming ever more important that efforts are increased to raise funds to assist access to justice for those who find themselves dependent on law centres and other similar voluntary legal advice providers.”

In addition to the legal walks, for the last two years Birmingham Law Society has supported the trust by holding legal eagles quiz nights, which have raised considerable funds for MLST.

This year’s walk in Nottingham will be taking place on 10 May and as well as solicitors, barristers, judges and legal executives, a high turnout of students is expected. Birmingham’s walk is taking place on 21 May and will be led by Mr Justice Flaux.

To find out more about the work of the MLST and the legal walks please contact MLST chairman, Lance Ashworth QC at St Philips Chambers. Email: lashworth@st-philips.com.

 

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