The overall need to have a network of legal aid providers in Tanzania was expressed since early 1990s. This was reflected in the report of Judge Mark Bomani (UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, Financial and Legal Sector Upgrading Project (FILMUP), “Legal Sector Report,” Dar Es Salaam: Government Printer, 1996). The first network of legal aid providers was established in 1997 which was known as LEGALNET with the following members, Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA), Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), Women Legal Aid Centre (WLAC), Legal aid Committee of University of Dar es salaam and ENVIROCARE. This network was a loose network and was not formerly registered. The problem was compounded further by lack of donor support leading to its informal dissolution in 2000. Therefore, there was no network for legal aid providers from then until in 2006 when a number of Leading Legal Aid Providers, under the coordination of WiLDAF as stated above, decided to establish TANLAP.
TANLAP was established following realization of the need to have an active and independent network of legal aid providers to build the capacity of legal aid providers, to harmonize legal aid services and ethical conducts of legal aid providers and to have a collective forum for participation in policies and law reforms.
The founding legal aid providers comprised the following: The Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT); the Disabled Organization for Legal Affairs and Social Economic Development (DOLASED); Lawyers Environmental Action Tanzania (LEAT); Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC); Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA); Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF); Women’s Legal Aid Centre (WLAC); and the National Organization for Legal Assistance (nola).