Legal Action Group
Our work - Social Justice
Putting social justice at the heart of legal practice
We are a specialist criminal defence law firm based in London. We work nationally and internationally. Our lawyers have trained and worked at some of the UK’s leading law firms.
With expertise at every stage of the criminal justice process, we provide representation at the police station, in court and at appeal. We have worked on several landmark cases of national significance. Many of our cases involve fundamental human rights issues.
Commons is not your average law firm. We have a unique model as a non-profit social enterprise committed to improving fairness within the criminal justice system. From our pioneering holistic approach to criminal defence which supports clients with underlying social needs, to our research and thought leadership, we place social justice at the heart of our legal practice.
Far too often, money – or the lack of it – plays a determining role in the outcome of a legal case. The quality of legal representation available to those with deep pockets can be wildly different to those people from low incomes. Money is not the only factor – ethnicity, age and mental ability can also play a deciding role in the course of an individual’s case.
We believe there is another way. We envisage a criminal justice system that places people on equal footing, regardless of their personal circumstances. A system that strives to eliminate discrimination and privilege from within our police, courts and government.
We are part of many communities – the community of people who work at Commons, our clients, our locality in South London and our community of peers who work within the criminal justice system. From collaborating with local support groups in supporting our clients’ needs to providing training in how to help vulnerable people at risk of being criminalised, we harness the power of the collective to create incremental and lasting change.
Alongside our legal practice and holistic support services, we strive towards positive reform in the legal system (see more at Our Projects section).
Over the course of their legal practices, spanning more than a decade, our founders witnessed the gradual deterioration of standards in our criminal justice system. Sweeping changes to legal aid and underinvestment in the court system led to a downgrading of quality and availability of legal support for lower income and vulnerable people. The founders of the firm felt compelled to act. They set up a non-profit, co-operative, social enterprise law firm in 2016 with the aim to provide outstanding legal advice and representation to all of their clients, regardless of how the case is funded. The result is Commons.
We are the first criminal law firm in the country to integrate a commitment to social justice into our legal structure. We set up as a Community Interest Company which means all profits we generate through our work are reinvested into the firm’s mission. Our team’s wages are benchmarked to fair pay standards meaning we can focus on delivering social justice over personal profit.
The Law Society Gazette
The Daily Mail
The Financial Times