New Legal Education Foundation appoints CEO

Written by Andrew Holt

The Legal Education Foundation (LEF) has announced the appointment of Matthew Smerdon as the Foundation’s CEO.

Smerdon was previously deputy director at the Baring Foundation where he was responsible for leading its Strengthening the Voluntary Sector grants programme.

The LEF was established following the sale of the College of Law last year and officially launched on 10 July 2013 with the announcement of its first six grants.

Smerdon will be responsible for managing the capital endowment of approximately £200 million – the next application deadline for potential grants is 14 October 2013.

Smerdon has spent 17 years working in the voluntary sector; his most recent activities have focused on supporting social welfare legal advice services.

This has included establishing collaboration between UK trusts and City law firms.

He has also advised Ministers and senior civil servants on efforts to mitigate the impact of public funding cuts on the legal advice sector.

LEF chairman, Guy Beringer said: "We are incredibly fortunate to attract someone of Matthew’s calibre. One of our key aims is to achieve collaboration between funders and also amongst our grantees.

"His experience and vast knowledge in identifying and assessing important projects and working with grantees will ensure the Foundation’s contributions help us attain our broader goals of improving the legal education sector and its impact on society.”

Smerdon will continue his current trustee position at Partnerships London Mtwara (an international health education charity working on sexual health and sustainable development in Southern Tanzania) and as vice chair of Governors at Brook Community Primary School (a large and diverse Hackney primary school).

Details of the LEF grant application process are on the website

Projects the Foundation are interested in supporting include:

Filling gaps in the provision of legal education at academic and professional level

Innovation in the structure and delivery of teaching at academic and professional level

The development of public and civic legal education

The advancement of mobility and diversity initiatives which provide access to employment in the profession

Thought leadership and research related to the development and structure of academic and professional legal education

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