The new Community Justice Fund (CJF) has already awarded over £600,000 in grants to the legal advice sector to help it cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
It aims to inject immediate money into specialist advice agencies, plus provide longer-term support as a “catalyst for wider renewal”.
Ten individual grants of between £30,000 and £100,000 have been made to the likes of the Child Poverty Action Group, Disability Law Service, Brighton Housing Trust, Just for Kids Law, Welsh Housing Aid, the Mary Ward Legal Centre, Norfolk Community Law Centre and JustRight Scotland.
Organisers said the £75,000 given to the Child Poverty Action Group ensured it could continue to provide its services.
The CJF went live last month, supported by £2.4m from the Ministry of Justice and £1.6m from the Access to Justice Foundation – which is hosting the fund – Therium Access, the Legal Education Foundation, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, AB Charitable Trust and Indigo Trust.
Other funders are the Law Society, Linklaters, Allen & Overy and the London Legal Support Trust.
The funding pot has now reached £7m when the £3m of government money that went to the Law Centres Network is included.
The £1.6m includes money raised by the Emergency Advice Appeal, a joint initiative by the Access to Justice Foundation and the London Legal Support Trust, to help the legal advice sector during the pandemic. It raised £242,665, with the foundation providing a further £200,000 in matched funding.
The appeal was backed by individual supporters and legal organisations coming together to fundraise, through virtual walks, runs and quizzes.
“Generous donations” were given by the Law Society, Linklaters, Allen & Overy, Leigh Day, Hogan Lovells, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, Brabners, Womble Bond Dickson and Mills & Reeve.
Ruth Daniel, chief executive of the Access to Justice Foundation, said: “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.
“We’re keen to continue our fundraising initiatives to support the Community Justice Fund and help the legal advice service sector through the longer term impacts of this pandemic.”
Meanwhile, Laurence Harris, a founder partner of US law firm Cooley’s London office, has been named as the next chair of the foundation’s board of trustees.
He will take over from Lord Goldsmith QC, who will step down at the end of 2020, having held the role since the foundation was established in 2008.
A commercial litigator and solicitor-advocate, Mr Harris has been a trustee since 2012.
Mr Harris said: “I am honoured and delighted to be succeeding Peter Goldsmith as chairman of the foundation.
“He will be a very difficult act to follow; but at this critical time for the advice sector, I am hugely excited to be able to help lead the Foundation in its work, which, in these uncertain times, is more important than ever.”