More than 3,500 lawyers turned out at the Royal Courts of Justice (RCJ) yesterday for the fourth annual London Legal Support Trust sponsored walk.
Raising a record £310,000, the event saw 196 legal teams from across the UK set off on a 10km route from the RCJ over the Millenium Bridge, through Westminster and St James’s Park before finishing at The Law Society’s headquarters at Chancery Lane.
“It was brilliant, we raised £100,000 more than the year before,” said walk organiser Bob Nightingale.
“Having doubled the number of walkers every year for four years, I think it’s becoming something of an institution. People know that the voluntary legal sector is dying and the commercial legal profession is turning to help.”
Following the walk, a ceremony at The Law Society saw the Trust present cheques to the Mary Ward Legal Centre (£27,000), which provides free advice on debt law, and the Islington Law Centre (£25,000), which provides advice on housing, education employment and consumer law, to combat the “immediate danger” of closure that both centres face.
The Trust was also given a boost by the announcement that Weil Gotshal & Manges will be joining a scheme that raises money from the interest accrued by pooling the firms’ client accounts.
Previously Allen & Overy was the only firm to take part in the idea, raising £75,000 a year through the scheme.
“The need is immense – the gap between what legal aid achieves and what is needed is huge, so regular money is important. But the walk was a brilliant demonstration of support by the commercial sector,” Nightingale said.
Elsewhere, the legal teams at Vodafone and the Surrey Law Society held their own walks, turning the sponsored walk into a national event.
The Trust will allocate the remaining funds raises in coming months, and welcomes applications from other law centres in the southeast for funding.