Why Snarky Blogs Should Stop Taking The Piss Out Of The London Legal Walk

It’s not all that often that I think Alex misses the point, but in his article yesterday on the London Legal Walk, I’m afraid he might have.

Let me start off by answering the first question he asked: “Is the London Legal Walk the shortest, least taxing sponsored walk in the history of sponsored walks?”

Yes. Because the walking isn’t really the point…

What the London Legal Walk does is bring together over 6,000 individuals from across the legal profession and related organisations to show support for free legal advice and the organisations that deliver it, while crucially raising a few quid – with over £500,000 expected to be raised this year for the first time.

With charities such as Citizens Advice Bureau and law centres already suffering from significant funding cuts, and huge legal aid cuts looming, this support is more important than ever – even if it can never replace the hundreds of millions the government is cutting.

For any sort of event where you have everyone from spritely students to ageing anoraks, you need to make some compromises. A two hour 10km walk through the heart of London on what was a very pleasant Monday evening is exactly that kind of event – relevant, open and accessible to all. Many who were feeling a bit more energetic, such as LawWorks’ chairman and Clyde & Co partner Paul Newdick, decided to run the 10km – a good compromise, I think.

What is taxing about the walk is all the organising that goes on behind the scenes – a huge congratulations to the London Legal Support Trust, Law Society, National Pro Bono Centre and everyone else who’s had a hand in putting on what was a great evening, with more teams and walkers than ever. Without them, and the 100+ volunteers on the day, it simply wouldn’t be possible.

Finally, it’s possibly the only 10km walk where you can get a free alcoholic drink at the end, and that of course makes everything worth it. I personally handed out several hundred free drinks tokens (hello, Knights Templar people!) and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed their evening.

While London gets all the attention as the largest walk, it would also be remiss of me not to point out that walks have also taken place in other places across the country (Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Guildford, Newbury, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Cambridge) with walks still to take place in Brighton, Eastbourne, Hastings and Manchester later this year. If you can, do get involved – and book the 20th of May in the diary for next year!

Alasdair Stewart is project manager at pro bono charity LawWorks.

The picture of Attorney General Dominic Grieve was taken by Neil Rose, editor of Legal Futures

4 Responses to “Why Snarky Blogs Should Stop Taking The Piss Out Of The London Legal Walk”

  1. anon

    Great!

    It’s slightly tiresome to see all these wonderful lawyers and other publicity-seekers banging on about how “inspriational” they all are.

    Excuse me, but the people quietly giving their time for free to people who can’t afford private lawyers are the real heroes.

    It’s one thing to thow money and have a jolly for good causes.

    It’s another to pitch up, on a weekly basis to give one’s time and talent away for free, without any expectation or desire to get any recognition other than a grateful client’s thanks.

    Free advertising these firms and organisations can milk in return for a few grand? Well done, troopers!

    PS: Show me where the money’s going.

    If it’s going to pay CEOs and other salaries rather than keeping the lights on at the local law centre so the people quietly getting on with pro bono have a place from which to dispense free legal advice – then we’ve all been had.

    • Simon Myerson

      This isn’t about self-publicity. It’s about people who already make a commitment getting together to enjoy themselves and raise money. And about people who support that activity making their support clear.

      I’m afraid I don’t understand why you feel that the implicit assumption behind your comment – that people will not do anything altruistic – is justified. Perhaps you don’t get out enough?

      The real heroes are people who don’t look for thanks or publicity. They do it because it’s the right thing to do. And people like that are unlikely to feel the need to “prove” their conduct just because others would rather believe that they’re always in it for themselves.

  2. Cup half full

    You can see exactly where the money goes by looking at the London Legal Support Trust’s accounts and indeed the list of people funded by the 2011 Walk on their website – http://www.londonlegalsupporttrust.org.uk – and I think you’ll find a lot of people on the walk are those who give their time for free and do so quietly but isn’t it about time they stood up, together to be counted in their support? And if giving them some publicity helps gets more people involved, raising money, raising the profiles of the law centres and raising awareness of the need for free legal advice surely that can only be a positive thing?

    Why not ask those who work in Law Centres what they think of the walk and you might want to take back some of that post anon…

  3. Bob

    For the record:-
    All the funds from the London walk all go to maintain the Law Centres and advice centres that are suffering so badly in the recession and they help those centres to help poor and vulnerable people who are suffering in the recession.

    A large proportion of the City law firm walkers are the same people who pitch up at the advice centres to provide free advice.

    The Centres themselves enter teams and get all the funds raised by their own team with no deduction.

    The costs of our CEO (that’s me) are covered by funds coming from the Allen & Overy and Weil Gothsall & Manges client account schemes and from direct donations from law firms, the largest currently being from Hogan Lovells.

    all the walk’s beneficary agencies are listed in our annual review and posted on the web page.

    The law firms get very little PR from walking although hopefully the negative PR for not walking is starting to create some pressure on those firms who still don’t participate.

    The walk sprang from the need of advice agencies for a vehicle to attract more corporate funding and it is still organised mainly by people from the advice agencies.

    So, Anon, please don’t knock the law firms and chambers who take part but feel as free as you like to bang on about those who don’t!