For a society where everyone has access to justice.

About The Access To Justice Foundation

The Access for 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:

  • Keeping family breadwinners in employment through challenging unlawful discrimination
  • Preventing young families from being made homeless
  • Supporting disabled people to avoid poverty by achieving a basic level of income
  • Helping victims of sexual violence and torture to rebuild their lives

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

Ruth Daniel

CEO

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

Clare Carter

Deputy CEO

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.

Greg Hodder

Head of Development

Greg Hodder is the Head of Development at the Access to Justice Foundation. Greg is responsible for fundraising and communications. 

Sasan Abtahi

Grants Manager

Sasan Abtahi is the Grants Manager for the Foundation and Litigant in Person Support Strategy.

Marine Bourgeois

Grants Manager

Marine  Bourgeois is the Grants Manager for the Community Justice Fund.

Marine is the day-to-day point of contact between the Foundation’s grantees, potential grantees and the Foundation.

Ildephonse Nzabahimana

Data and Learning Manager

Ildephonse Nzabahimana is the Data and Learning Manager 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.

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.

Sarah Sandall

Communications Officer

Sarah Sandall is the Communications Officer at the Access to Justice Foundation. 

Sarah is responsible for publicising the work of the Foundation and is the first point of contact for media enquiries.   

Madeleine Lustigman

Grants Coordinator for the Community Justice Fund

Madeleine Lustigman is the Grants Coordinator for the Community Justice Fund.  

Tasnim Sadia

Grants Officer

Tasnim Sadia is a Grants Officer for the Community Justice Fund.

Georgina Maddox

Grants Officer

Georgina Maddox is a Grants Officer for the Community Justice Fund.

Larissa Fischer

Grants Officer

Larissa Fischer is a Grants Officer for the LSLIP Grants Programme and the Community Justice Fund.

Isabella Pyrgies

Grants Administrator

Isabella Pyrgies is the Grants Administrator at the Access to Justice Foundation

Stacey Lamb

Litigant in Person Support Strategy Programme Director

Stacey Lamb is the Programme Director for the Litigant in Person Support Strategy. She is responsible for overseeing and implementing the programme of partner activities within the strategy.

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.

Alice Bettis Marsh

Network and Development Officer

Alice Bettis Marsh is the Network and Development Officer. Alice is responsible for overseeing the Network and its membership and works as support within the Development team at the Access to Justice Foundation.

Trustees

Lord Goldsmith PC, QC,

Chairman of the Board (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.

Laurence Harris

(appointed by Law Firms)

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, where he is now Vice Chair of the firm’s global litigation practice.  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.

Lance Ashworth QC

(appointed by the Bar Council, former Chairman of the Midland Legal Support Trust)

Lance Ashworth QC is a barrister specialising in Chancery and Commercial litigation from Serle Court.  He was chairman of the Midlands Legal Support Trust from its inception until May 2012 and has been the Bar Council’s appointed Trustee to the Access to Justice Foundation since March 2014.  

He chairs the Strategy and Development Committees, and currently sits on the Nominations Committee and the Grants Committee.

Frances Edwards

(appointed by law firms, former President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives)

Frances has been a Trustee since 2015.   Frances was a CILEx Council member from 2008-2018 and was President in 2014/2015. 

She is a family lawyer and partner in the firm Caswell Jones, Caerphilly.   Frances takes a great interest in access to justice in Wales and is Secretary to the Legal Wales Foundation, a member of Reaching Justice Wales committee and is the CILEx Advisor for Wales.

Toby Brown

(appointed by the Board, former Officer of the Foundation)

Toby Brown is a commercial barrister at South Square Chambers, who was involved in establishing the Foundation in 2008 and originally served as executive officer before becoming a trustee.

Toby has been involved in a number of pro bono and charitable initiatives, and currently chairs the organising committee of Pro Bono Week. He also sits on the Bar Council’s pro bono and social responsibility committee.

Nicola Sawford

(appointed by the Board, Treasurer)

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, a board member of the Bar Standards Board, a trustee of the charity Changing Faces, a member of the Managing Partners Forum advisory board and an advisor to LegalTech firm Legl.

Jeffrey Forrest

(appointed by the Law Society, Law Society Council Member)

Jeffrey Forrest studied law at the London School of Economics and following articles in the City of London he was admitted in 1975. He has also been admitted in Ireland. For many years he had his own practice and he is now a consultant with a London firm.

He is a former president of the Westminster & Holborn Law Society and a liveryman of the City of London Solicitors Company.  He is one of the founders (and a trustee of) the Colombia Caravana, supporting human rights defenders.

Dame Janet Smith DBE

appointed by the Lord Chief Justice, High Court Judge)

Dame Janet Smith practised at the bar in Manchester Chambers from 1972 until 1992 when she was appointed a judge of the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division). She was a Presiding Judge of the North Eastern Circuit from 1995 until 1998. From 2001 to 2005 she conducted the public inquiry into the activities of the serial murderer Harold Shipman. After that she took up her place in the Court of Appeal to which she had been appointed in 2002. 

She was President of the Council of the Inns of Court from 2006 to 2009. She was chairman of the Security Vetting Appeals Panel from 2000 to 2009.   She retired from full time sitting in the Court of Appeal in 2011 and was Treasurer of Lincoln’s Inn in 2012. She was the Independent Assessor of Compensation for Miscarriages of Justice from 2011 to 2016. In 2013 she undertook the BBC’s review into allegations of sexual abuse by Jimmy Savile. She now sits as a judge of the Court of Appeal of Gibraltar. 

Alice Copping

(appointed by the Advice Services Alliance)

Board member of Advice Services Alliance. Alice is currently Senior Development and Operations Manager at Connection Support a charitable organisation with a focus on homelessness, mental health and independence.

Alice has worked at senior and Board level in the advice sector for the past 20 years with particular experience in social welfare, debt, housing and community care. Previous board member of Green Square Group and Agnes Smith Advice Centre and Board Chairman for Oxford Citizens Housing Association.

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).

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.

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 solicitor and currently Legal Counsel at a leading child rights NGO (Plan International). He previously worked in corporate law 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.

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 ​