Those needing access to free legal advice in Western Australia now have a greater chance of success, with the State Government contributing almost $500,000 over three years as part of the new WA ‘Pro Bono Model’.
Attorney General John Quigley recently announced the model, which requires law firms who are awarded State Government contracts to provide pro bono legal services for at least 10 percent of the value of their Government legal work.
The pro bono model comes into effect on July 1, 2020.
The funding will enable Law Access to match Community Legal Centres’ referrals for vulnerable people with law firms who provide legal services to government agencies. The model will prioritise vulnerable and disadvantaged clients.
The funding is additional to ongoing State Government funding for legal assistance such as Legal Aid, community legal centres and the Aboriginal Legal Service.
More information about the Pro Bono Model is available at https://www.wa.gov.au/government/announcements/western-australias-pro-bono-model
As stated by Attorney General John Quigley:
“More Western Australians will be able to access justice through the WA Pro Bono Legal Service Model with new funding for Law Access.
“Demand for legal services, including frontline community legal services, have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is vital that legal assistance can be obtained by people who are facing financial difficulty.
“Collaborations of this kind show that we are all working together to ensure justice is available to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.”
As stated by Law Access CEO Dominique Hansen:
“Law Access is excited to collaborate with Community Legal WA to help deliver the new WA Pro Bono Model.
“This unique model is designed to increase provision of pro bono legal assistance for the most vulnerable in our community.
“Other Australian jurisdictions will be closely following the model’s impact.
“Thanks to this funding, Law Access will be able to provide a streamlined and effective referral pathway from community legal centres to law firms providing pro bono legal services.
“It will enable us to provide training and support for community legal centres to maximise pro bono referrals for their clients and their services, as well as training and information for private law firms about the opportunities available to assist community legal centres and their clients on a pro bono basis.”
As stated by Community Legal WA Executive Director Sharryn Jackson:
“Community Legal WA welcomes the introduction of procurement incentives to increase pro bono support.
“Pro bono support is essential to the operation of community legal centres in WA. Each year, community legal centres in WA attract over 70,000 hours in volunteer and pro bono contributions – equivalent to almost 40 FTEs – to assist people with their legal problems.
“The new WA Pro Bono Model will provide an expanding resource for our community legal centres and their clients to get the legal help they need, at a time they need it most, and stop legal problems spiralling out of control.
“We look forward to partnering with Law Access to implement the Pro Bono Model.”