The City

Legal community help keep the lights on and exceed charity target

Bob Nightingale MBE celebrates the success of this year's London Legal Walk, which returned to its original, in-person format.

London Legal Walk at Horse Guards in 2021: group of people in white t-shirts, walking a dog, come through arch of pale stone building on a cloudy day
London Legal Walk at Horse Guards in 2021

“Trying to keep the lights on” is often used as a flippant expression when things become tough financially.

For many frontline free legal advice agencies, this is a harsh reality because of funding cuts and increased demand.

However, because of the continued support from the legal community, the London Legal Walk has this year raised over £630,000 to help fund these vital legal services in London and the South East that serve vulnerable people in our community.

What is the London Legal Walk?

Organised by the London Legal Support Trust, the event is a sponsored 10km walk in central London, and teams walk together while raising money for frontline free legal advice agencies.

This year’s event took place in October, back in its traditional, in-person format for 2021 after going virtual for 2020.

Teams were treated to a street party after their walk, with entertainment, street food and a chance to catch up with friends and colleagues.

At least 8,500 walkers took part, braving the rain and fading light – including people (and some four legged-friends!) from City law firms, chambers, advice agencies, law schools, in-house legal teams and courts.

A choice of three central London routes were available, taking in iconic sights of our capital, all of which started at Carey Street, next to the Law Society building.

Once again, this year, we were honoured by the support of senior members of the legal community as our lead walkers, including the lord chief justice of England and Wales, and I. Stephanie Boyce, president of the Law Society of England and Wales.

During 2021, we kept a close eye on progress of the ‘unlocking’ of restrictions and started outdoor events in May with our annual Walk the Thames, followed by the virtual 10xChallenge, fluffy fundraiser, Legal Walkies and regional events.

Herbert Smith Freehills team at London Legal Walk 2021: Large group of people pose in three rows in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Many are wearing dark blue t-shirts and the front row are sitting on the ground.

Herbert Smith Freehills team at London Legal Walk 2021, Lincoln's Inn Fields 

Exceeding the target

Our real goal for 2021 was to see the London Legal Walk happen in its physical format and raise our target.

We are delighted that – because of the generosity of the legal community, sponsors and supporters – that target has been exceeded.

This means we can continue to help fund legal advice charities who tell us daily how much they need extra money.

With a lot of planning (and social distancing measures in place), we were extremely happy to welcome our wonderful teams and see the buzz of this well-loved event back!

We are now looking forward to 2022 when the London Legal Walk will return to its regular summer fixture (and hopefully great weather).

Why does the London Legal Support Trust exist?

The first London Legal Walk was in 2005. At the time, I was working in south-west London law centres.

Funding was rapidly decreasing, yet the number of people needing help was increasing.

Along with a small committee, we organised a 10km sponsored walk in central London. It attracted 330 people from the legal community who recognised they could help. They raised £37,000.

The momentum has continued through to today, raising over £890,000 in 2019 and even our virtual event in 2020, blighted by COVID-19 restrictions, raised over £550,000.

A recent survey by Bolt Burdon Kemp has shown 46% of the British public didn’t understand the legal aid system and highlights the inequality within Britain’s funding system.

Over 100 frontline free legal advice centres have been forced to close their doors during the pandemic.

Many people have found themselves in a vulnerable position for the first time and have faced job loss, financial and health problems, and domestic abuse, but do not have the means to pay for good-quality legal advice.

Frontline free legal advice clinics offer support with these issues and desperately need additional funding.

For the London Legal Walk to come back after such a turbulent 18 months with such success is a testament to the dedication of the legal community – many of whom work in clinics or within the free legal advice sector, and see how good-quality free legal advice can change someone’s life for the better.

Looking ahead – how you can help in 2022

We are looking forward to launching our events calendar for 2022 in January, which will include challenge events, the Great Legal Bake, Walk the Thames, and of course, the London Legal Walk.

Register to receive regular communications about the work we do and how you can help or email signups@llst.org.uk.

There are other ways you can help too!

Promote payroll giving in your firm

Payroll giving is an easy, tax-efficient way to give. Donors can choose multiple charities to give to every month, and the rest is taken care of.

Donations are made from pre-tax income, so a gift goes further.

Find out more about payroll giving

Charity of the year

Making London Legal Support Trust (LLST) your charity of the year would help raise awareness and funding, and show your organisation’s commitment to supporting access to justice.

As your chosen charity of the year, you would be fully supported by the team at LLST.

Monthly giving

A regular donation helps LLST, and the charities we support, to plan what funds are expected and how they can be utilised to continue vital services.

For more information, see our website or email Nicola Hewitt at Nicola@llst.org.uk.

Thank you once again for your support this year and we look forward to seeing you in 2022!

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