Established in 2012, The Legal Education Foundation (TLEF) is an independent grant-making foundation distributing around £6m a year through its own grants and programmes, and over £15m in the next ten years through funding partnerships. Its vision is of a society which fosters the principles of justice and fairness, where people understand and use law to bring about positive change and to prevent harm, and where public systems and structures uphold the rule of law.
In this work, TLEF knows that there are significant numbers of people who cannot obtain justice in relation to everyday problems, and that these unmet needs trigger or exacerbate clusters of issues which have a social and economic impact on individuals, communities and wider public policy goals. It believes the law should be readily available at the times and in the places where people need it. The Foundation operates a combination of open and proactive grant programmes, awarding, since inception, over £35m through 514 grants to 200 organisations.
TLEF has also developed and now runs itself a set of initiatives tackling particular strategic challenges in the sector. These include the 'Justice First Fellowship', a scheme which was established in 2013 to support the next generation of social justice lawyers. The Foundation also supports the organisations it funds in a variety of other ways including providing access to training, consultancy and networking to promote exchange, learning and collaboration. It also carries out its own development work, particularly in the fields of public policy and research and it places a strong emphasis on collaboration with other organisations in the field.
Looking ahead, there are three programmes and objectives which will drive TLEF’s work to 2025:
- Stronger Sector: Training and support for a thriving social justice legal sector
- Fairer Systems: Transparency, accountability and the protection of rights
- Smarter Justice: An enduring commitment to learning and evidence in the justice system
The principal source of funds for the Foundation are the returns on an endowment which currently stands at around £270m. In addition, the Foundation receives and distributes restricted grants from other organisations and has a charitable subsidiary whose principal source of funds is restricted grants from other charitable foundations and organisations.