The Law Centres Network has yesterday admitted two new organisations to its membership, in the first general meeting of the movement's 50th anniversary year.
Public Interest Law Centre (PILC) started out five years ago as a unit specialising in public interest litigation at Lambeth Law Centre. Following its closure in July 2019, PILC found a new home as part of Camden Community Law Centre and has now incorporated as a separate entity. Its most recent work includes challenging Lambeth Council on a policy that risked pushing many people off its housing list, and a joint call on the government to set up a public inquiry into its handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
Lewisham Law Centre, as it will now be known, started out as an outreach project of the neighbouring Southwark Law Centre, in south London. It has re-established a Law Centre service in a borough that has not had one for over a decade. The old local Law Centre, one of the movement's first, had closed its doors after over 30 years in 2008. It now intends to deepen its local roots and expand its service offering to local people.
To have two Law Centres be spun off from existing Law Centres is precedented but not common. More often, an organisation is either set up entirely anew with the purpose of becoming a Law Centre, or an existing advice organisation 'converts' into a Law Centre by proving it meets the Network's criteria for membership.
Nimrod Ben-Cnaan, head of policy and profile at the Law Centres Network, said:
"It is heartening to see that, despite adversity, every year sees new Law Centres emerge. Our movement may be 50 years old, but our values and the idea of using the law as a tool for social change are evergreen. We warmly welcome our new members and wish them every success!"
Law Centres are of their local communities and for them. Setting up a new Law Centre is first and foremost a local initiative, one that we at the Law Centres Network help develop. If you are thinking of setting up a local Law Centre where you are, please contact us.
To back the Law Centres movement in another way, please support our new Justice Fund.