Law student Alexander Gorshechnikov, Bond Law Clinic Program Director Dr Francina Cantatore, Law student Sam Souyave-Murphy and LawRight Principal Solicitor Karen Dyhrberg. PICTURE: Cavan Flynn
Queenslanders are still facing barriers when accessing basic legal help, according to the annual Access to Justice Scorecard run by the Queensland Law Society.
For the past five years, Queensland’s Access to Justice score has consistently hovered around 5 out of 10. Despite there being little movement since 2013, Bond University is hopeful their new partnership with LawRight can help to address the problem.
LawRight is an independent not-for-profit that provides free legal services for individuals and community groups. Teaming up with Bond, they will be offering free legal advice to people who are not able to afford a lawyer or obtain legal aid, about property law, small businesses, and not-for-profits.
The Director of the Bond Law Clinic Program, Dr Francina Cantatore, Associate Professor at Bond University, said the new partnership would help address access to justice barriers and give students real-world experience.
“We are very excited about launching this partnership with LawRight, which will see two new LawRight clinics being established at Bond University in the next few months,” Dr Cantatore said.
“The clinics will not only help to address a real need in the community, but they will also provide great practical learning opportunities for our volunteer students.”
Dr Cantatore highlighted a statistic by the Law Council of Australia, which found that of the 13 percent of Australians who live below the poverty line, only 8 percent qualify for Legal Aid.
For those who cannot afford basic legal assistance, Dr Cantatore is hopeful that LawRight volunteer lawyers and Bondies can step in.
“We want our students to be well-rounded law graduates when they leave Bond, and that includes fostering a pro bono ethos which they will carry forward when they enter the workplace,” she said.
For LawRight Principal Solicitor Karen Dyhrberg, this pro bono ethos is a matter of tradition.
“The legal profession is one where the pro bono tradition is passed down - established practitioners often encourage and support their juniors to do pro bono,” Ms Dyhrberg said.
“But we also see innovation and new levels of passion from junior practitioners, so it's really important that young lawyers start opening their eyes to where there is a need for their skills.”
The clinics will include the LawRight Commercial Law Clinic and LawRight Property Law Clinic which will be based at the Bond University campus as a community service.
Bond Law academics, student volunteers, and Gold Coast legal practitioners will staff the clinics.
Client appointments will begin in September through LawRight.
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