Do you have a legal need that you can’t afford to address?

Does your legal matter fall outside the established guidelines for Legal Aid?

We understand that this can happen to anybody. The ACT Law Society, the ACT legal profession and Community Legal Centres, and the Legal Aid Commission established the ACT Pro Bono Clearing House to help you.

Please note that the Pro Bono Clearing House does not deal with Family Law matters.

Supported by the ACT Law Society and the ACT Bar Association, the Pro Bono Clearing House matches people and organisations in genuine need of pro bono legal assistance with either a law firm or a Community Legal Centre able to provide that assistance.

However, our members are not obliged to accept a referral, so we cannot guarantee that legal assistance will be provided in all matters that meet the eligibility criteria.

What is 'pro bono'?

‘Pro bono’ means ‘for the public good’. Lawyers doing pro bono work do not charge professional fees for their time. They may charge for other expenses, depending on the type of matter, a person’s circumstances, and the firm’s or lawyers’ pro bono policy.

The Clearing House will consider applicants in two types of matters:

  • Public interest law matters that affect a significant number of people or that raise a matter of broad public concern; and
  • Private interest law matters that have a reasonable prospect of success.

The Clearing House will not deal with a matter if it is thought that the assistance should be provided by the Legal Aid Office. To find out more about Legal Aid, call 02 6243 3411 or visit www.legalaidact.org.au.

The Clearing House does not accept family law matters.

Applications will be accepted from individuals, and from not-for-profit organisations or community groups (whose purpose is primarily charitable). Applicants must be able to demonstrate a financial need for pro bono legal assistance.

You may also be eligible for assistance if you are likely to suffer a serious injustice without legal representation, if you are not eligible for a grant of Legal Aid, or if you have insufficient means to afford legal services at professional charging rates.

Applying to the Clearing House is free.

Once your matter is referred to a law firm you will need to ask that firm what, if any, charges you will need to pay them. The firm must seek approval from the Clearing House to levy charges, and it must provide reasons for doing so prior to the commencement of any work.

If you have any concerns please contact the Pro Bono Clearing House Administrator.

The Law Society and the Clearing House treats all information provided as confidential.

The Law Society and the Clearing House may discuss your application with one or more lawyers when determining who to refer your application to.

Your application and any related documentation will be kept by the Law Society during the assessment process. Once your application has been accepted or declined, your application and supporting documentation will either be forwarded to the law firm the matter has been referred to, returned to you, or securely destroyed.

Neither the Clearing House nor the Law Society will retain any original documents or copies of original documents provided by you.

Step 1

Contact the Clearing House Administrator on 02 6274 0300 to make an appointment for an interview. All interviews are conducted on Monday morning (when a public holiday falls on Monday, interviews will be scheduled on the previous Friday or following Tuesday). Interviews are conducted at the offices of the Law Society at Level 4, 1 Farrell Place, Canberra City.

Step 2

Complete the application form below. Please make sure you complete all applicable sections. Assistance can be provided if you have difficulty completing the form.

Step 3

Bring the application form with you to the interview, together with:

  • Any relevant information and supporting documents. In particular, please provide copies of any court or tribunal documents.
  • Three payslips or a bank statement or a Centrelink statement or any other evidence of your income.

At your interview, you will meet with the Operational Secondee, whose role is to go through your application with you to get an understanding of your matter and the type of legal assistance you are seeking. This interview is also an opportunity to ensure you have all the necessary documentation that the Clearing House needs to assess your application. The Operational Secondee cannot provide you with any legal advice.

Step 4

Your application will be reviewed by an Assessment Panel to determine whether it meets the eligibility criteria for referral. While the Clearing House tries to assess applications as quickly as possible, it may take some time to get back to you.

Step 5

Applications that meet the criteria will be referred on to a law firm. If a firm accepts your matter, you will be asked to contact the firm directly to arrange an appointment with them. Before starting any work on your matter, arrangements for legal representation need to be discussed, including any costs that may be incurred.

Step 6

If your matter cannot be referred out, or if we cannot assist you, you will receive a letter providing reasons why the Clearing House is unable to assist you.

 

More information

Eligibility criteria and an application form can be found below. For further information please contact the Pro Bono Clearing House Administrator, Katrina McWatt, on
02 6274 0300 or email pbch@actlawsociety.asn.au.

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