By Dr Laura Janes, LAG chair
When Carol Storer took over as interim director of LAG on 1 March 2019, just as we were about to celebrate 70 years of legal aid, we could never have anticipated the challenges ahead. Two years on, the world is a very different place and, in some ways, so is LAG.
Under Carol’s guidance, LAG has not only survived but thrived. It has massively expanded its digital offering, both in terms of its publications and its online training events. Carol has worked with our wonderful head of publishing, Esther Pilger, to ensure we have been able to continue to produce some of our most well-loved and classic publications, including Employment Law: an adviser's handbook, Defending Suspects at Police Stations
and the Legal Aid Handbook 2020/21
. She has also overseen LAG venturing into pastures new with books on vicarious trauma
and adolescent mental health
, as well as two firsts for LAG: a poetry book
and a children’s book
. During her time as interim director, Carol has nurtured Legal Action,
which is the bedrock of the LAG community. She has worked with our brilliant editor, Louise Heath, writing regular editorials and suggesting new content, as well as driving forward changes to the administration of subscriptions.
Carol has worked with the board, with support from The Legal Education Foundation
, to refresh and strengthen LAG’s vision and aims as it moves towards its 50th birthday next year. She has worked steadfastly to guide and support the LAG staff through the many challenges of the public health crisis. Yet while Carol has overseen many positive changes, she has done so while maintaining the ethos and spirit of LAG in these troubled times.
We say farewell to Carol at a critical stage in the journey of legal aid, with providers closing at a greater rate than ever and advice deserts across England and Wales expanding. Carol has always been a staunch defender of access to justice, and during her time at LAG she has brought that energy to LAG’s policy work.
(L-r) Dr Laura Janes, Henny Beaumont, Lady Hale, Afua Hirsch, Esther Pilger and Carol Storer at the Judge Brenda book launch at the Supreme Court.
Before lockdown, we were fortunate to have a number of in-person events led by Carol, including a Legal Aid at 70 conference
bringing together over 100 LAG supporters to celebrate legal aid’s contribution to justice in our communities, a wonderful launch
for the Judge Brenda book at the Supreme Court, and a party for LAG friends and authors. These were all joyful occasions, which highlighted just how special the LAG community really is.
Carol came to LAG with an OBE for her services to legal aid and it would not be too outlandish to think of her as a living embodiment of Lady (Access to) Justice. Her passion and commitment to justice and equality has continued to ripple through LAG and the wider community of our friends and authors. We have been incredibly lucky to have her during this time and on behalf of the board of trustees we cannot thank her enough.