Bond University has its very own law clinic offering free legal advice on the Gold Coast.
Its purpose is to make legal guidance more accessible to those who need it, while allowing students to prepare for a career in law by assisting our qualified professionals with real legal matters.
Here’s what to know about Bond Law Clinic and how it helps the community.
Who does Bond Law Clinic help?
Bond Law Clinic provides free legal advice to anyone in the Queensland community who would otherwise have difficulty accessing legal services — if their legal issues are within the scope of our services.
The Northern Rivers community of New South Wales can also access our free lawyers, as well as Bond University staff and students.
Clients can get help from solicitors at the Robina campus on the Gold Coast, and online appointments are available by request.
What sort of advice can Bond Law Clinic provide?
The clinic, based out of the Faculty of Law, gives free legal advice in the areas of commercial, property and business law, as well as general legal advice.
The clinic’s principal solicitor Sara Loughnan says the aim is to provide clients with enough information to understand the options available to them so they can make informed decisions.
“Sometimes our advice may be that the client should engage a private solicitor, and sometimes our advice may be that there is nothing that the client can do to improve their situation, however, this advice in itself can help people to understand, accept, and deal with their situation,” she says.
Qualified legal professionals will provide basic legal advice on a wide range of matters including:
- business structures, officeholder duties and protecting business interests
- consumer disputes
- tenancy, lease, and body corporate
- disputes about contracts and agreements
- debt disputes and debt recovery
- not-for-profit organisations and incorporated associations
The clinic does not represent clients in court or other tribunals or represent clients on an ongoing basis.
It also doesn’t do conveyancing, prepare wills, draft legal documents, or advise in complex legal matters requiring specialist expertise.
Who runs the clinic?
Bond Law Clinic is led by a qualified legal practitioner with vast experience in the industry.
Sara had been a lawyer in a private practice for 30 years before joining Bond University as principal solicitor of the Bond Law Clinic — so clients are in good hands, as are our law students who gain experience by assisting Sara and other legal professionals at the clinic.
Sara has experience in a wide range of legal issues after working for decades as a partner in a regional Queensland general legal practice.
“There have been days where I have gone from an appearance on a criminal matter in the Magistrates Court to advising on complex property leases or business contracts, to negotiating the resolution of a contested estate matter or family law dispute… and that’s just before lunch,” she said.
The Bond Law Clinic will also be drawing from experienced lawyers of the local Gold Coast legal community who volunteer their time on a pro bono basis. Not only does this give our volunteer lawyers the opportunity to do community service but it also creates an opportunity for our students to meet and learn from them.
How does the clinic benefit the Gold Coast community?
Bond Law Clinic fills a gap in the availability of free or low-cost legal advice in Queensland.
Sara explains that this is due to the financial limitations of Legal Aid Queensland and community legal centres on the Gold Coast, and their need to prioritise criminal and family law over other legal areas.
“Getting some good quality legal advice at an early stage can help resolve issues without the financial, physical, and emotional stresses often associated with legal disputes,” Sara says.
How does the clinic benefit Bond University law students?
Students can get involved in a variety of tasks at Bond Law Clinic, learning legal concepts along the way and gaining a greater understanding of how they can apply in everyday life and in theory.
“In my view, having this practical experience and exposure to real clients and real issues actually helps students in their academic studies,” Sara says.
Students can participate in reception and administration duties as well as attend client appointments, draft file notes and document legal advice for clients.
Students may also be involved in research projects such as preparing fact sheets for people or businesses affected by new or changing legislation.
“In 12 months’ time, some of the students who have participated in Bond Law Clinic will be graduating and will be using the practical skills they have learned to become excellent lawyers who continue to do community service in whatever way they can,” Sara says.
She says the clinic aims to make the transition from law student to practising lawyer an easy one.
Is client information confidential?
Bond Law Clinic has a professional obligation to ensure that your confidential information remains confidential except in very limited circumstances.
By accepting an appointment, clients authorise Bond Law Clinic to disclose their confidential information to the participating student and lawyer so that they may provide relevant legal advice.
All students participating in the clinic sign an agreement to confirm that they will keep your personal information confidential.
“As a law firm, the Bond Law Clinic is required to maintain the same professional standards and duties of confidentiality and care as required of all law firms however we aim to exceed the expectations of everyone involved,” Sara says.
How do I speak to a lawyer for free?
You can access Bond Law Clinic’s free services by completing an appointment request online.