Over 12,000 people, the majority of them lawyers, walked to raise funds for free legal advice services in London and the South East. The walk is expected to raise over £750,000 to promote access to justice for the most vulnerable.
The annual London Legal Walk has attracted the support of the whole of the legal profession who are fundraising to enable colleagues in advice agencies, local Citizens Advice and Law Centres to continue to help people access vital free legal advice.
The people that the advice centres help include families facing homelessness, elderly people requiring community care, trafficked women and children, disabled people, refugees, people who are facing unemployment and those with mental health problems.
These vulnerable have suffered most during the recession.
Meanwhile, cuts in civil legal aid and council grants have made access to free legal advice in the capital much scarcer. Legal Aid firms in the high street have diminished rapidly, some advice centres have closed and most others have had to severely reduce casework staff.
Lawyers from all parts of the profession recognise the need for legal help for the vulnerable and come together to raise funds. The most senior judges walk side by side with law students; corporate lawyers and QCs with high street solicitors and caseworkers working in front-line advice centres. Many in-house lawyers from multinational companies will be walking.
President of the Law Society of England and Wales Joe Egan says: “Each year thousands of solicitors and barristers across the UK take to the streets to raise money for charity. The London Legal Walk is a highpoint in the calendar and it is vital for raising money for organisations that provide free legal advice. This fundraising effort means a hugely diverse range of people get vital advice helping them face frightening legal situations. Those benefiting from the advice are vulnerable and would be unable to afford this assistance – and remember those least able to afford legal advice often can be in the most urgent need of it! Solicitors and the wider legal profession are committed to helping them.”