I’ve just heard from Pete Lowen — who with his team has tried just about everything to maintain free legal aid services for Birmingham’s citizens — that Birmingham Law Centre has closed. The announcement was made on Tuesday 25th June 2013.
Cashflow difficulties along with cuts in legal aid funding finally made it impossible for the centre to continue.
The centre’s five solicitors and fifteen paralegal staff had been assisting around 2,000 clients a year but had been struggling in the current legal funding environment for months, narrowly avoiding closure just before Christmas last year. The centre, which was descended from a series of organisations that have provided free legal services over decades in Birmingham, could trace its roots back almost 100 years.
This is sad news for Birmingham, sad news for people needing access to free legal services, and sad news for the law centre movement.
Back in February Pete said that the Law Centre was grateful to “everyone in the legal sector for their magnificent support in our fight for survival. We have had messages of support from solicitors, judges and others. We will continue to talk to anyone willing to help.” Sadly, neither the messages of support nor the funding talks with various parties were able to save the centre.