Clifford Chance has pledged £1m in support of its pro bono partner Law For All (LFA) after announcing a five-year service level agreement.
As part of the deal the magic circle law firm plans to second up to five full-time equivalent trainee solicitors each year to the West London-based legal aid practice.
The firm’s pro bono partner Roger Leese said: “It wasn’t on the table for Clifford Chance to withdraw, but what we were conscious of was that our supply of trainees and relationship [with LFA] was very much on a day to day basis.”
Leese explained that Clifford Chance wanted to demonstrate its long-term commitment by giving [LFA] a firm and written understanding, and said: “We feel it is something which isn’t in any sense a trophy endeavor, it is something with real, solid and tangible results.”
Clifford Chance’s collaboration with the not-for-profit law firm will enable it to help clients who just fall outside the means test for legal aid or whose problems fall beyond the scope of legal aid.
The secondees will advise around 190 LFA clients in tribunals, who would not otherwise be represented, and have the opportunity to develop essential legal skills and to practice in the core social welfare law areas.
Leese added:” The trainees are getting really valuable experience by managing cases on their own, managing clients on their own – real frontline experience of a different type.”
This year the programme will enable the organisation to see an additional 2,900 drop-in clients and to undertake an extra 25 per cent of casework for existing clients.