The Rolls Building Art & Education Trust (RBAET) was set up in 2011 to commission art and curate artefacts for the newly built Rolls Building and to link these to an educational programme aimed at introducing students to the civil justice system and to the possibility of a career in law.
The Rolls Building houses the Chancery Division, the Admiralty and Commercial Courts and the Technology and Construction Court and is the largest specialist centre for the resolution of financial, business and property litigation in the world. There was no provision for art work in the new building and, to address this, the RBAET was formed with a group of judges from the jurisdictions concerned and others with an interest as Trustees. Chaired by Geoffrey Bond OBE DL the Trust now has a varied collection of original art on public display. The works have either been commissioned by the Trust or have been gifted or provided on indefinite loan. Artefacts curated by the Trust include the Admiralty Oar and the Scrutton Memorabilia. The Trust has held one exhibition, by Wendy Brooke-Smith, and has commissioned a sculptural work by Sophie Arkette which will be exhibited in Autumn 2015 and will use the medium of glass to form a dialogue on the legal and ethical issues relating to stem cell research.
From the outset the Trustees have emphasised the RBAET’s parallel educational role and, to that end, have linked with the National Centre for Citizenship & The Law (NCCL) who have considerable experience in this field from their work in Nottingham, Manchester and at the Royal Courts of Justice. The ensuing educational programme provides students with an opportunity to take part in a mock trial in one of the Rolls Building court rooms and meet a High Court judge to ask questions both about the case, the law in general and how to pursue a career in law. The programme is aimed at A level students from schools whose pupils are drawn primarily from deprived or disadvantaged backgrounds. The RBAET also plans to offer an opportunity for students to spend a day shadowing a High Court Judge at the Rolls Building as part of the Pathways to Law programme. Pathways to Law was set up in 2006 by the Sutton Trust and the College of Law (now the Legal Education Foundation) to widen access to the legal profession and is similarly targeted at students in Years 12 and 13 whose parents have not been to university or who have been eligible for free school meals.
An RBAET Team regularly participates in the London Legal Walk and shares the funds raised with the London Legal Support Trust (LLST) who organise the Walk. The LLST supports the provision of specialist legal advice through law centres, advice agencies and citizens advice bureaux by providing them with grant funding alongside other forms of support. It is part of a network of seven Legal Support Trusts across England and Wales working with the Access to Justice Foundation to support pro bono and advice agencies.
The Rolls Building Art & Education Trust is an entirely pro bono body – any donations received or money raised goes to support the Trust’s educational, curatorial and art activities.