Legal Help

1. LawAccess – probably the best starting point for general information about law. Includes a website and free telephone advice service: 1300 888 529. http://wwwwaccess.nsw.gov.au/

2. Law & Justice Foundation (www.lawfoundation.net.au ) – great website for information about courts, parliament etc – good for getting your hands on the law – acts and cases.

3. AustLII  www.austlii.edu.au – the most comprehensive website for discovering the law across Australia (and even some overseas law)

4. Legal Aid – provides advice and representation to socially and economically disadvantaged people. If you cannot afford to pay for legal representation and are at risk of going to prison, generally Legal Aid will represent you or pay for your representation by a private lawyer.

5. Law Society of New South Wales and the NSW Bar Association – professional bodies for solicitors and barristers in NSW. They can help you link up with pro bono lawyers and can field and investigate complaints about their members. You can also look up solicitors contact details on their website or find solicitors with particular kinds of expertise or, for instance language abilities.

6. Office of the Legal Services Commissioner – the independent body that can investigate and discipline solicitors and barristers. The best organisation to complain to about a lawyer.

7. Community Legal Centres – provide free legal services to the community including advice, referrals and representation. Many CLCs are generalist – that is advise about a wide variety of areas of law – and focus on serving a particular geographical area e.g. Redfern, Mt Druitt, Far West. Others specialise in a particular area of law and often an excellent resource in their area e.g. Welfare Rights (anything to do with Centrelink), Consumer Credit, Arts Law, Environmental Defender’s. Not all of them run cases and they vary in size and capacity.

8. Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Public Interest Law Clearing House – PIAC is a CLC that runs test cases in areas of special public interest. PILCH is affiliated with PIAC and refers cases which are of public interest to legal firms and barristers. In either case, PIAC or PILCH will only help if your case has a wider public interest going well beyond your own case.

9. Registries in the Courts and Chamber Magistrates can also advise in relation to procedural matters and getting the necessary forms for litigation.

10. The Law Information Access Centre in the State library is a good resource for books and other material containing information about law. So are the ‘law libraries’ of universities e.g. Sydney University Law School has a library on Level 8 in the building on the corner of Phillip, Elizabeth and King Streets in the Sydney CBD.

11. Be aware of watchdogs to make complaints to like the Ombudsman (including specialist Ombudsmen for the banking, telecommunication and energy sectors). There are also specialist bodies for some industries e.g. health care complaints.

12. Tribunals in specialist areas provide an often cheaper, quicker and more informal forum for dealing with complaints e.g. Consumer, Trader & Tenancy tribunal.

13. Books like The Law Handbook are a great starting point for discovering what options you have and a little about the law.

14. Private lawyers – provided you have the money that’s what they are there for. We recommend choosing a good one. Go by word of mouth but also look for ‘accredited specialists’ in the area of law in which you need assistance e.g. criminal law, family law, personal injury. In some areas lawyers will work on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis. This is mostly confined to personal injury and medical negligence type claims.


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