Charity forged by College of Law sale hands out first law grants

The Legal Education Foundation (LEF) – the charitable arm spun out of last year’s sale of the College of Law – has formally launched with a series of six grants to initiatives supporting pro bono, social mobility and access to justice.

LEF – which has funds of approximately £200m generated by last April’s sale of the College of Law’s education and training business to Montagu Private Equity – was set up to continue the College’s charitable activities in the wake of the takeover.

The foundation aims to support initiatives in the provision of legal education, with a particular focus on innovation, diversity and social mobility.

The largest initial grant has been awarded to Pathways to Law, which aims to help young people from less socially advantaged backgrounds enter the legal profession.

The grant will see eleven universities receive £400,000 per year for three years, to fund mentoring schemes for year 12 and 13 students featuring work experience and support sessions.

The institutions receiving the funding are University of Bristol, University College London, University of Essex, University of Exeter, University of Leeds, London School of Economics, University of Manchester, University of Nottingham with Nottingham Trent Law School, University of Oxford, University of Southampton and University of Warwick.

The remaining five grants are to worth up to £50,000, with an expectation of future commitment as projects grow. Other groups to have received funds include the Law Centre Network, which provides pro bono legal advice; LawWorks, which encourages and supports pro bono work; and the Advocacy Training Council (ATC), which supports advocates in their dealings with vulnerable witnesses.

“This will enable us to make a real contribution to access to justice and the development of fairer and more effective trial procedures in the crucial area of vulnerable witnesses,” said ATC chair Nicholas Green QC.

The British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) has also been awarded a grant to help it continue to provide free online access to law reports, while education provider Galleries of Justice will receive funds for its programmes that use historical legal buildings to teach children about law.

“This is an important time for the legal sector,” said LEF chairman and former Allen & Overy senior partner Guy Beringer (pictured). “There are increased pressures on access to justice, access to the legal profession and access to legal education. These pressures affect the public as well as students of law and legal practitioners.

“We want the Foundation to support the many innovative and creative projects which are responding to these pressures. The Foundation will seek to support a wide variety of organisations and will cast its net widely to cover all forms of legal education in many different social, professional and academic settings.

“Our next application deadline is October. We face our own challenge of raising awareness of the Foundation and the breadth of its remit. I hope this launch will help get the message out to a wide variety of organisations to get in touch.”

More details on applications for the next round of grants can be found here.