For a society where everyone has access to justice.

About The Access To Justice Foundation

The Access to Justice Foundation was set up by the legal profession. We are the only national charity solely focused on funding and supporting access to justice. The Foundation give grants to advice agencies across the country that provide legal advice on a range of issues.

Our Objectives

To increase funding for the advice and pro bono sectors to ensure we meet the needs of our beneficiaries, to include local and regional fundraising.

To build on the effectiveness of grant making to both local and national organisations within the sector.

To support the sector by providing leadership and encouraging collaboration.

We raise funds and distribute them strategically to those advice agencies who can make the most difference to the lives of vulnerable people.

We fund Law Centres, local citizens’ advice, independent advice agencies, pro bono projects and national charities, which help to facilitate access to justice.

To ensure help reaches those most in need we work in partnership with committees across the regions of England, in Wales and in Scotland. We also work to support the sector in other ways, consulting with sector organisations around what we can most usefully do to support them. This includes exploring new and better ways for the sector to collaborate and to increase the effectiveness of the sector, working closely with other advice funders and working closely with other partners

Key Facts

In 2018, the Access to Justice Foundation distributed a total of £2,080,182 in grants to support free legal help for those in need. The organisations we support work tirelessly to help the most vulnerable in society. Some examples of the work we fund are:

Over the past ten years we have made over 300 grants worth over £7m, providing advice to tens of thousands of people.

The Foundation’s most recent grants round had 100 applications, out of which we will only be able to support around 10% due to the funds that are available.

2/3 of the UK population don’t know how to get legal advice
14 Million people live in poverty and can’t afford access to justice
The legal aid budget, in real terms, is £950m less that it was in 2010
1/2 of all legal advice services in the UK have closed
There are huge housing advice deserts across the UK. Analysis shows up to a million people live in areas with no legal aid provision for housing, with a further 15 million in areas with one provider.

"We were immensely grateful to receive a grant from the Foundation. It helped us keep vital services open. We were able to develop more sustainable sources of funding, and we're now looking at expanding our services. "

Tower Hamlets Law Centre

People We Have Helped

Amira* was let go by her employer at a difficult time in her life. “I underwent surgery and was then unable to do the full range of tasks required of me at work. My employment was terminated on grounds of capability. Southwark Law Centre gave me clear advice, dealt with my employer’s lawyers on my behalf and represented me in person. They helped me obtain a settlement. I would not have been able to do it without them and I am extremely grateful to the Access to Justice Foundation for funding my representation.

Sally* suffered from sexual harassment at the hands of a colleague. Despite filing a complaint, her employer refused to take action against the perpetrator, leading Sally to resign from her post rather than work with her harasser. Feeling powerless, she contacted her local Law Centre, who assisted her in preparing the documentation and represented her in court, where she was awarded compensation. Sally would have not taken her employer to court without free legal representation from the centre, and would have thus never seen the injustice she suffered being redressed.

Tariq*, an asylum seeker from Afghanistan, and his family had been threatened with eviction from the hostel they were staying in by the Home Office. A local immigration charity averted this fate, by lodging an appeal on the family’s behalf and ensuring they were represented in the tribunal. Without the advocacy and representation provided, this family would now be street homeless. Tariq wrote to his advisor: “Without you, they would not listen. Thank you for your help. I do not know what will happen to us tomorrow, but – just because of you – they have listened today.”

Sarah* is a single mum with a disabled 8-year-old son who has a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy and needs support. When her application for PIP was rejected, she had nowhere to turn “I felt I’d come to the end of the road. We were lucky to find out about North Bristol Advice Centre. We were there 15 minutes and got the maximum award from zero. I really feel sorry for people who haven’t got access to support.”

* Real names not used

Some Projects We Funded In 2018

  • Schools’ Rules developing an online toolkit to be used by law clinics and law centres, providing them with documents, guides, tutorials and resources to enable their frontline staff to deliver high-quality and comprehensive advice on school exclusion.
  • ATLEU Identification Project for Victims of Trafficking: working with victims of trafficking, the project assists them in engaging with the reconsideration process in challenging a negative National Referral Mechanism decision. Being correctly identified as a victim of trafficking is of vital importance to vulnerable individuals, as it allows them to access necessities to rebuild their life, such as accommodation and support, protecting them from re-trafficking.
  • Central England Law Centre to expand its legal advice service in Birmingham following the closure of Birmingham Law Centre.
  • Citizens Advice North & West Kent to expand housing advice services to help match the increasing dem
  • Citizens Advice Pembrokeshire to continue providing advice and support in benefits appeals, with a focus on clients with mental health issues and learning disabilities.

Our Local Trusts

A national partnership working together to improve the experience of people facing the legal process alone by improving access to information, practical support, advice and representation.

Staff Profiles

Sasan Abtahi

Grants Manager

Sasan Abtahi is the Grants Manager for the Foundation’s Legal Support for Litigants in Person grants programme.

Sirintiya Booth-Roberts

LIPSS Programme Administrator

Sirintiya Booth-Roberts is the Programme Administrator for the Litigant in Person Support Strategy. 

Laura Cassidy

Development and Fundraising Manager

Laura Cassidy is the Fundraising and Development Manager at the Access to Justice Foundation. 

Laura is responsible for organising fundraising events such as the Legal Walks, the Great Legal Quiz and the Great Legal Bake.

Clare Carter

Joint Chief Executive

Clare Carter is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Access to Justice Foundation. Clare is responsible for ensuring the sustainability of the Foundations charitable activities.

Ruth Daniel

Joint Chief Executive

Ruth Daniel is the Chief Executive Officer at the Access to Justice Foundation. Ruth is responsible for the overall strategic direction of the charity.

Martha de la Roche

Litigant in Person Network Director

Martha leads the Litigant in Person Network as Network Development Manager, focusing on supporting the access to justice sector to work together more effectively, communicate more easily and work more strategically. She initiated the innovation workstream with a focus on data, design, tools and technology. A law graduate, she has previously worked in fundraising and business development across a number of access to justice organisations and has seven years’ experience in the sector.

Larissa Fischer

Grants Manager

Larissa Fischer is a Grants Manager for the Community Justice Fund Grants Programme at the Access to Justice Foundation.

Peter Fruin

Finance and Operations Manager

Peter Fruin is the Finance and Operations Manager at the Access to Justice Foundation. Peter is responsible for the Foundation’s Financial records and operations, as well as Legal & Governance matters. 

A CIMA-qualified accountant, Peter has extensive experience working in both Finance and Compliance at the trading arm of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Stacey Lamb

Grants Director

Stacey Lamb is the Grants Director of the Access to Justice Foundation, with oversight of the Foundation’s collective grant-making, including the LIPSS Partnership, Community Justice Fund and Legal Support for Litigants in Person grant.

Stacey has previously worked throughout the access to justice sector in frontline service delivery, volunteer management and fundraising. She is also a trustee of the Artis Foundation.

Anjana Mistry

Grants Officer

Anjana Mistry is a Grants Officer for the LSLIP Grants Programme at the Access to Justice Foundation. 

Ildephonse Nzabahimana

Data and Learning Manager

Ildephonse Nzabahimana is the Data and Learning Manager at the Access to Justice Foundation.

Lynne Squires

Development Director

Lynne Squires is the Director of Development at the Access to Justice Foundation. 

Foundation President

Lord Goldsmith PC, QC, (former HM Attorney General)

Lord (Peter) Goldsmith QC, PC, is the London Co-Managing Partner and Chair of European and Asian Litigation at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP. He served as the UK’s Attorney General from 2001–2007, prior to which he was in private practice as one of the leading barristers in London.

Lord Goldsmith acts for a variety of clients in arbitration and litigation around the world. As the UK Attorney General, he represented the government in numerous cases in UK and international courts. He also argued as counsel in the House of Lords two of the 15 cases regarded as the most important British cases of the last 150 years.

Lord Goldsmith has a strong history and life-long support for pro bono assistance to bring legal advice to the disadvantaged. As a young lawyer, he started a legal advice center in the East End of London and, later in his career, founded the Bar of England & Wales’ Pro Bono Unit (of which he remains President) and the Attorney General’s pro bono coordinating committees. Amongst other recognitions, he was awarded the Lifetime Award for Extraordinary Contribution to the Development of Pro Bono Culture in Europe at the 2014 PILnet European Pro Bono Forum.

He was one of the founders behind the Foundation and became the first Chair of its Trustee Board, a post he held until September 2020 when he became the Foundation’s President


Laurence Harris

Chairman of the Board

Laurence is a solicitor who has practiced in the area of commercial litigation all his career. 

He was one of the founder partners of the London office of the international law firm of Cooley.  He advises Governments, large corporates and high net worth individuals in complex commercial disputes. Prior to joining Cooley, he had been a Managing Partner of a UK firm, and then the Deputy Managing Partner of a large US law firm. 

He is a solicitor-advocate and a Crown Court Recorder. Laurence joined the Board of the Foundation in 2012 and was appointed the Foundation’s second Chair in succession to Peter Goldsmith in September 2020.

Andrew Seagar

Andrew is the Director of Business Development at Citizens Advice, the national membership organisation supporting the local Citizens Advice offices in England and Wales.

With a background in social welfare advice of over 20 years, beginning as a volunteer adviser, Andrew has worked within the advice sector on a range of projects, programmes and initiatives. As Director of Business Development, Andrew works with statutory, corporate and voluntary partners and funding to develop and fund new services to individuals and communities that address the ever increasing information, education, advice and advocacy needs that the Citizens Advice Service responds to through its network of over 3000 outlets in England and Wales.

Nicola Sawford

Nicola is a portfolio non-executive director with over 30 years of business experience. She is a qualified chartered accountant and her business experience has covered a wide variety of sectors including legal services, technology, telecommunications, retail, media, financial services, regulation, housing and charities.

In addition to her role at ATJF she is currently chair at Milton Keynes Development Partnership, chair at CHP Ltd and a member of the Managing Partners Forum advisory board .

Dame Maura McGowan

Dame MM is a High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench Division. She is the Lord Chief Justice’s appointed representative on the ATJF.

She was chair of the Bar Council in 2013. She is involved in judicial and advocacy training, nationally and internationally. She is a Guardian of the ‘Support Through Court’ organisation and is committed to promoting access to justice for all groups and individuals.

Natalia Rymaszewska

Natalia Rymaszewska is the Head of Grants at the Leathersellers’ Company, one of the ancient Livery Companies of the City of London where she manages a range of funding programmes providing charitable, educational and trade related grants.

Having originally studied law at Edinburgh University, Natalia has over a decade of experience in the voluntary and funding sectors. Having previously worked at both the Bar Pro Bono Unit (now Advocate) and as Chief Executive of the London Legal Support Trust, she also holds a Masters in Voluntary Sector Management from CASS Business School, with a focus on Grant Making and Philanthropy. 

Joe Snape

Joe Snape is a human rights and environmental solicitor at McCue & Partners. He has previously worked in corporate law and in several NGOs, and also has experience of climate change litigation in the UK and Latin America.

Joe has several years’ experience of working across a number of organisations providing access to justice to vulnerable individuals and is also a governor of Oldfield Primary School.

Rebecca Samaras

Rebecca Samaras is the Director of Pro Bono and Clinical Legal Education at the University of Edinburgh. Rebecca is responsible for the strategic development and leadership of the Edinburgh Law School’s pro bono activity.

A former litigation solicitor, Rebecca specialised in family law and the additional support needs (SEN) of underrepresented vulnerable individuals, and charities throughout her career.She sits on the Law Society of Scotland’s Access to Justice Committee and the Scotland Committee for the Access to Justice Foundation. She is also Chair of the Scottish University Law Clinic Network (SULCN) and a Trustee of the Clinical Legal Education Organisation (CLEO).

Sarah Stephens

Sarah currently works for the United Nations as a civil society and social justice advisor, specialising in grant management, project evaluation and capacity building. 

She previously worked as a litigation solicitor in London then specialised in human rights law and access to justice in low income countries. She is passionate about justice sector reform and for the past 25 years has worked as a founder, and advisor on access to justice projects in the UK, Asia and Africa. 

Audrey Haaxman ​

Audrey is currently Director Internal Audit and Risk for British Council, the UK’s international organisation for education and cultural relations.

She is a chartered accountant and a qualified internal auditor and holds a Masters degree in Economics. She has 20 years of experience in governance, risk and assurance in the commercial, public and third sector including education, technology and financial services.

Gavin Mansfield QC

Gavin Mansfield QC is a barrister and is Head of Littleton Chambers. He specialises in employment and partnership disputes and related areas of commercial law. 


Gavin sits as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench Division in the Employment Appeal Tribunal. He is a former Chair of the Employment Law Bar Association and is a Master of the Bench of the Honourable Society of Middle Temple.