Access to Justice: Are residual client balances burning a hole in your pocket?

Access to Justice: Are residual client balances burning a hole in your pocket?

by Charlotte Duthie | April 09, 2024

A guest blog by Charlotte Duthie, Access to Justice Foundation

You know they are there. You know you need to do something about them. But you are not quite sure where to start.

With The Access to Justice Foundation, you can donate dormant client funds in an SRA-compliant way knowing that we will use it to support communities that are excluded from accessing justice by giving grants to free legal advice organisations nationwide.

We also provide written indemnities for your firm in the event that a client resurfaces.

Our vision is a society where everyone has access to justice and our mission is to improve people’s lives by increasing the availability of quality legal advice and support. We champion the use of the law as a tool for social justice. Much of our work in this area focuses on sharing best practice and celebrating what is being achieved at the frontline, through our network. Our work changes lives now and develops a robust evidence base for the future.

In 2023 we awarded 102 grants totalling £30 million to organisations offering free legal advice, increasing the availability of advice in the most marginalised communities across the UK.

So far in 2024, we have awarded just under £20 million to 42 organisations and are planning further grants rounds.

These grants have a hugely positive impact on the communities that our grantee organisations serve.

Case study I

Jim is a single father, living in temporary accommodation with his two children having escaped domestic violence. The council incorrectly held he was refusing housing assistance, so issued Jim an eviction notice. One of our grantees, Coventry Citizens Advice, walked Jim through the review process, and supported his search for housing, benefits, and counselling. Now Jim understands his housing rights and can confidently look for a more appropriate long-term property.


LawNet and The Access to Justice Foundation

Our mission to facilitate nationwide equitable access to justice is made possible by many LawNet member firms who already donate to The Access to Justice Foundation.

By donating their residual client balances, six LawNet member firms have kept their accounts compliant and have made sure that almost £150,000 of dormant funds can be fed back into the legal advice system, helping to change the lives of many vulnerable individuals seeking advice.

If you want to learn more about the process of donating your residual client balances, please visit our webpage, or email and we will be more than happy to walk you through the process.

Case study II

Leanne, a single mother of two, was living in squalor in a rurally isolated area, in rented accommodation that she could not afford to heat. Her ex-partner was collecting her Universal Credit payments, and Leanne was running up significant rent arrears. With the help of one of our grantees, Cumbria Law Centre, Leanne’s benefits were reinstated (including back pay, which she used to pay off her credit card debt). She was supported in applying for a property closer to her children’s school and has leveraged ongoing support from the City Council and Adult Social Services.


No residual client balances? No problem – there are other ways that you, whether an individual or a law firm, can be part of the picture, and bridge the gap that vulnerable communities face when attempting to access justice.

Pro Bono Costs Orders

The Access to Justice Foundation is the statutory recipient of all Pro Bono Costs Orders, which help level the litigation playing field, by ensuring that there are equal adverse costs risks for all parties. This encourages reasonable litigation conduct and settlement. Like residual client balances, successful pro bono costs applications provide vital funding for future free legal help. 

You can learn more about Pro Bono Costs Orders here.

Other ways to get involved

  • Take part in, sponsor, and organise a fundraising event or Legal Walk.
  • Host us at your events, conferences, and publications.
  • Advocate for our work.
  • Individual or legacy giving.
The Access to Justice Foundation

If you would like further information or to learn more about supporting the Foundation’s regional/national fundraising and grant making activities, visit the webpage or get in touch with Charlotte directly: