Hogan Lovells’ pro bono team has helped develop an initiative urging law firms to release unclaimed client funds to the Access To Justice Foundation.
The ’It’s Not Just Peanuts’ campaign has been set up to support free legal access in the wake of major cuts to legal aid and local government funding. Firms are being urged to release amounts of less than £50 that are unclaimed by clients.
The Access to Justice Foundation campaign takes advantage of a 2008 ruling allowing law firms to donate unclaimed sums of under £50 to charity without approval from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). The money will then be passed on to community law centres around the UK.
Under the ruling, if clients return to claim the money the sum is covered by an indemnity.
In future the campaign will also seek donations of more than £50, although this would require firms to apply to the SRA on a case-by-case basis.
Hogan Lovells international pro bono manager Yasmin Waljee said: “In the age of austerity there will no doubt be calls for private practices to do more pro bono. However, while pro bono helps plug a gap it’s not a substitute for a comprehensive legal aid service.
“This campaign will help the Access to Justice Foundation provide extra support for legal advice charities so their crucial work can continue, even in these difficult times.”
The campaign will be launched on 12 January at Hogan Lovells’ London office.