Law students are teaming up with Gold Coast lawyers to offer free legal advice after a Queensland justice scorecard dived for a third consecutive year.
The cost of legal services was again cited as a major cause of the poor score.
Bond University law students and local lawyers are offering hope to those shut out of the legal system at the Bond Law Clinic.
Clinic director, Associate Professor Franci Cantatore, said volunteers provided free legal advice on matters related to commercial, immigration and property law.
“We're trying to capture those people who don't qualify for legal aid because of the nature of their matter, or they may be just above the cut-off point,” Dr Cantatore said.
The Commercial Law Clinic helps small businesses and not-for-profits.
“It might be someone starting out in business,” Dr Cantatore said.
“We can tell them what kind of business structure might suit their business, for example why it might be beneficial for them to have a Pty Ltd company rather than a partnership. We also advise on a range of other commercial law issues.”
The Immigration Law Clinic helps disadvantaged and vulnerable immigrants such as those on refugee visas who want to bring family members to Australia.
The Property Law Clinic helps people with matters such as tenancy issues and neighbourhood disputes.
Clients meet with Bond Law students who are overseen by qualified lawyers such as Tammy Tye, associate at MinterEllison Gold Coast.
Ms Tye was part of the first group of Bond students who volunteered when the clinic was established in 2013 and is now one of the practitioner coordinators for the Commercial Law Clinic.
“It is great for corporate lawyers who are usually focussed on major transactions to do pro bono work that supports the Gold Coast community”, Ms Tye said.
“There is an assumption that if you are a small business you have the money to pay for legal services, but that’s not always the case.”
One of the students giving up their time for the law clinic is Nicholas Hart, who is in the final semester of a Juris Doctor degree, specialising in Canadian law.
“The practical experience from applying the law here in the clinic has been fantastic,” Mr Hart said.
“The benefits of helping out the community, it's something all students should carry forward.”
If you need pro bono legal advice in any of these areas -- or you’re a qualified lawyer who can mentor students -- contact the clinic at [email protected] or call 5595 1070.
TIPS FOR THOSE SEEKING ADVICE
- Be clear about the issues you face.
- Don’t expect ongoing legal representation -- it's a starting point.
- Gather all relevant documents and email them to clinic before your meeting.