Smarter Justice

Smarter Justice

An enduring commitment to learning and evidence in the justice system

Since our inception, TLEF has been committed to the role that evidence can play in advancing our vision. A commitment to collecting and learning from robust evidence is key to understanding the context in which we work and to designing effective interventions and structures.

Over the period 2015-2020 we invested in projects and initiatives to strengthen the evidence base of what works in helping people to understand and use the law to secure their rights, protections and fair treatment [you can read about some of our work here]. Through our work in this space, we learned more about the areas of development necessary to build a robust evidence base. These include the need to:

  • develop the quantitative evidence base for what works in assisting individuals understand and use the law, and in particular, the need to address gaps in research about the outcomes people secure in relation to their legal problems.
  • increase the use of methods that demonstrate cause and effect between intervention and outcome and improve the quality of evidence that is available to help us understand “what works”.
  • improve the collection of, and access to, data on the justice system and related administrative datasets; and to strengthen the ability of frontline agencies to collect and use data to learn from their work
  • expand the field of academics and researchers with the multidisciplinary skills, knowledge and expertise to conduct robust quantitative research into issues around civil and administrative justice;
  • address the decline in funding for research exploring legal education and justice system issues.

The scale of work needed to address these areas has required us to rethink our approach to research and learning in the context of our 2020-25 strategy. A key objective is to build an enduring commitment to learning and evidence. This is critical to support the delivery of the Foundation’s wider agenda over the next period. In order to build this commitment, we have recognised the need to intervene boldly, strategically and at scale.

Over the next strategy, our work under this objective will consist of two key components:

  1. Work to design and embed approaches to learning across our Stronger Sector and Fairer Systems funding programmes. We will work with grantees to develop their skills and to commission others to enable them to learn more from their work, and to help us to identify effective approaches.
  2. The development and launch of an ambitious strategic initiative, The Justice Lab UK, which will take forward work across four key areas that we have identified as priorities over the next 10-20 years.

There are currently no open grants programmes for ‘Smarter Justice’, which is being taken forward through proactive commissions and direct work with grantees.

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