Providing access to justice
We see the difference a legal remedy can make in peoples’ lives and the benefit to society as a whole when rights are respected and advanced. We want to ensure that people experiencing poverty, homelessness or any other forms of disadvantage - as well as the community organisations that support them - are not further disadvantaged by being denied access to justice.
Our unique contribution is collaboration: by working with pro bono lawyers to develop and strengthen pro bono capacity and strategically match this with unmet legal need, we avoid duplication, ease access for clients and deliver a holistic response to disadvantage.
When deciding whether to respond to unmet legal need, we ask:
- Is the client unable to afford to pay for legal representation or does their legal problem otherwise raise public interest questions?
- Is there another agency better placed to assist the client?
- Do pro bono lawyers have the skills and willingness to assist the client (or can we help develop this)?
- Do we have the expertise and resources necessary to support a pro bono response?
At the core of our approach is the intake assessment of legal issues and the referral to pro bono lawyers who will assist for free. We do this through a number of programs:
Pro bono legal referrals to our member lawyers and the management of the pro bono programs of the Victorian Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria.
Most applicants have complex legal problems and limited options for obtaining legal assistance. Our referrals to members are funded through fees and in-kind support from Justice Connect members, and by grants from philanthropic organisations.
The Law Institute of Victoria Legal Assistance Service (LIVLAS) is funded by the LIV through a special purpose grant from the Legal Services Board and is steered by the LIV’s Access to Justice Committee. The Victorian Bar Pro Bono Scheme (VBPBS) is funded by the Victorian Bar through a special purpose grant from the Legal Services Board and is steered by the Victorian Bar Pro Bono Committee.
Our specialist outreach service for older clients with a legal issue associated with ageing, including clients experiencing or at risk of elder abuse.
Seniors Law receives core funding from Victoria Legal Aid and Seniors Programs and Participation Unit, Ageing and Aged Care Branch, Department of Health.
Our specialist outreach service for clients experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Homeless Law receives core funding from the Commonwealth Community Legal Services Program and Department of Justice (administered by Victoria Legal Aid). The program receives additional funding from Department of Justice for the Homeless Persons’ Liaison Officer project.
Our specialist legal service for not-for-profit organisations.
Not-for-profit Law provides a multifaceted response to meet the community sector’s legal needs. A legal information webportal hosts over 100 resources, legal training and education is delivered to community groups across Victoria, and our lawyers provide legal advice over the phone as well as refer more complex legal issues to member law firms for pro bono assistance.
Not-for-profit Law receives funding from the Victorian Government (administered by the Office for the Community Sector and Consumer Affairs Victoria), the Legal Services Board, Perpetual Trustees (H & L Hecht Trust and Rowe Family Foundation), The Trust Company (Fred P. Archer Charitable Trust), and Equity Trustees (Edith Kemp Memorial Trust Fund, Ivy H & Arthur A Thomas Trust, and Pam Alfred Lavey Trust).
Self Representation Service
Our specialist legal service for unrepresented litigants in the Federal Court and Federal Circuit Court.
The Self Representation Service provides discrete legal assistance through appointments to individuals in the Federal Court or Federal Circuit Court who are experiencing disadvantage. We assist unrepresented litigants to understand their rights and duties, consider alternative options to resolve disputes, prepare necessary documentation for court, and conduct their legal proceedings in the best way possible.
The Self Representation Service receives funding from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.