|Due to the COVID-19 emergency, appointments with the Legal Advice Bureau are currently on hold, and appointments with the Pro Bono Clearing House are being conducted by phone.|
A first port of call
The Law Society is generally the first port of call for anybody who believes they have a legal problem, or who is just seeking reassurance about the legal process. The Society receives some 9,000 telephone calls from the public each year. You can contact the Law Society on 02 6274 0300.
Legal Advice Bureau
The Law Society’s Legal Advice Bureau, or LAB, has been in operation since 1972. The LAB offers 15 minutes of free legal advice to members of the public. It is staffed by volunteers — more than 100 Law Society members who give up their lunch break once a month. People come to the LAB because they aren’t sure about how to move forward with a legal issue, or even if they have a legal issue.
LAB volunteers see more than a thousand clients every year, and give advice on issues such as family law, criminal law, debt, personal injury, tenancy issues, motor vehicle accidents, employment law, workers compensation, migration law, and contract law. The volunteer work at the LAB represents around 250 hours a year.
Pro Bono Clearing House
The Law Society also provides legal assistance through the Pro Bono Clearing House to disadvantaged people who are otherwise unable to secure a lawyer. The Clearing House is a ‘last resort’ for legal help after all other avenues for assistance have been exhausted.
The clearing house accepts applications in two types of matters: ‘public interest’ law matters that affect a significant number of people or that raise a matter of broad public concern; and ‘private interest’ law matters that have a reasonable prospect of success.
A panel of volunteers examines applications for pro bono legal assistance, and refers those applications that meet the eligibility criteria on to a network of about 20 law firms who have agreed to accept referrals on a low cost or pro bono basis.