The body that organises the annual silk round has responded to pressure to release reserves during the coronavirus crisis by donating £200,000 to the benevolent associations for solicitors and barristers.
Bar Council chair Amanda Pinto QC revealed yesterday that the directors of QC Appointments (QCA) have agreed to donate £100,000 to each of the associations “to support struggling practitioners in immediate need”.
QCA is a not-for-profit body owned jointly by the Bar Council and Law Society to organise the silk competition, and has built up a £1.35m surplus.
Earlier this month, the Public Access Bar Association urged the Bar Council to call in its share of the this to support barristers during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the surplus served “no obvious or legitimate purpose”.
The association’s president, Marc Beaumont, tweeted yesterday that the donations were “not nearly enough, but a start”.
The Barristers’ Benevolent Association last week launched an appeal for funds – kick-started with a “substantial donation” from the four Inns of Court – and has so far raised £94,000 through its JustGiving page.
Meanwhile, the emergency appeal begun earlier this month by the Access to Justice Foundation and London Legal Support Trust to seed a new National Advice Fund has so far raised nearly £210,000. The foundation and other funders promised to match the first £200,000.
The fund aims to support law centres, specialist independent agencies and some Citizens Advice services. Click here to make a donation.
In other news, the Wesleyan Foundation – the charitable arm of the financial services provider for lawyers, doctors, dentists and teachers – has gifted over £100,000 to multiple charities and organisations supporting the mental health needs of these groups.
This includes a £10,000 grant to LawWorks, so that it can move online for three months free initial legal advice otherwise given at walk-in clinics, and £5,000 to wellbeing and mental health charity LawCare.
Finally, north-west firm Slater Heelis has offered NHS staff throughout England and Wales a free one-hour consultation on any family law issues, “as a thank you for their efforts in combating Covid-19 during these exceptional times”.