A law firm in Leicester is claiming to be the first in the UK to be set up by a charity.
The move was made possible using the 2011 Legal Services Act, which allows new types of businesses to set up law firms under its ‘Alternative Business Structures’ regulations.
The firm, which opened in May but only started marketing its services last month, aims to plough any profits back into the advice service.
Castle Park also says it will fulfil a social purpose by trying to fill gaps left by government cuts to legal aid, particularly in family, immigration and employment cases.
The firm says it expects its clients to be people of "modest means" and is offering an "access to justice" package which includes an initial hour-long meeting for £48, with subsequent hours charged at £78.
Typical solicitors’ fees are around £130 an hour and can be as high as £250 an hour.
Jusleen Arora, one of the founding solicitors at Castle Park, said: "The cuts in legal aid are a travesty for those who are reliant on it, so we want to help these people get access to justice. Any profits we make will go back into Cals to enable them to continue providing a free service, but we are separate in every other respect."
Cals said any revenue from the firm would be used to pay for costs such as rent and staff, rather than to expand its services. It hopes the potential revenue from Castle Park will be worth "tens of thousands" of pounds each year.
Glenda Terry, advice services development officer at Cals, said: "It was a risk to set up Castle Park and we hope it will bear fruit. We have made projections but we don’t know yet if they will be realised. We’re not expecting any surplus this year, but this is a long-term project."
The Solicitors Regulation Authority, which grants licences to law firms, said it was unable to confirm that Castle Park was the first to be set up by a charity because it did not record data in that way.