If you require legal advice there are a range of service providers in both the private and public sphere. Depending on your financial situation and the nature of your matter, you may be able to find assistance either from a private lawyer or law firm, a public legal service or a pro bono assistance scheme.
Private Law Firms
The Law Society maintains a register of private legal practices and their areas of expertise that can be accessed on the Find a Lawyer service to help you identify law firms that may be able to assist you on a fee paying basis.
Free or Low Cost Legal Services
Legal Aid – information in Western Australia, including any available duty lawyer and minor assistance services for criminal, family and civil matters
Aboriginal Family Law Services – legal and counselling service for victims of family violence and/or sexual assault who are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples, or whose partner or children are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples
Many resources are available online which allow members of the public to access State and Commonwealth legislation and some reported cases. Some sites also provide information about the law by legal topic.
The Legal Practice Board of Western Australia has statutory responsibility for the admission, supervision and discipline (through the Legal Profession Complaints Committee) of all legal practitioners in Western Australia. To find out if a practitioner currently holds a practising certificate, enquire with the Legal Practice Board.
The information on this website is provided as general information and is no substitute for legal advice. If you need advice about a specific legal problem contact a legal practice, Legal Aid WA on 1300 650 579 or your local community legal centre.
The Francis Burt Law Education Programme seeks to advance the Western Australian community’s understanding of the law, legal principles and the court system.
The Programme operates on the principle that all people must understand the law and the legal system, which affects their daily lives. Housed in the Old Court House Law Museum, the oldest building in the City of Perth, qualified Education Officers present structured legal education programmes.
The Education Programme offers
school and community group tours with court visits (Supreme Court, District Court or Magistrates Court), an empty court activity; and scripted trials based on fictional scenarios and historical West Australian cases
legal education resources
professional development workshops for teachers
an interactive Mock Trial Competition for secondary students
Regional and Remote Schools Loan Box Programme
Youth Civics Leadership Day
Sir Ronald Wilson Lecture
Lawyer Visits to Schools Network
Cluedunnit Kids Competition
Proudly supported by:
Corner St Georges Tce & Barrack Street, Perth
(next to the Supreme Court of Western Australia)
Telephone: (08) 9324 8686
Kids Holiday Programme: The Old Court House Crossword Challenge
These school holidays kids can find out more about Western Australia’s history at the Old Court House Law Museum with a fun activity suitable for 6 to 12 year olds. The Old Court House Crossword Challenge takes kids on a trail around the Museum to find the answers to complete a short crossword.
Cost: free | Duration: Tuesday 5 July 2016 – Friday 15 July 2016
The Old Court House Law Museum is one of only a few law museums in the world. The museum is housed in the City of Perth’s oldest building, constructed in 1836, next to the Supreme Court of Western Australia.
The museum promotes an understanding of the law, legal issues and the legal profession in Western Australia’s community and preserves the history of the law and the legal profession in Western Australia. The museum’s interpretive displays, Small Court House Big Stories and People and The Law, are accompanied by an audio overview and take visitors on a journey through Western Australia’s legal history.
Visit the Museum
Location: Stirling Gardens, corner of Barrack Street and St Georges Terrace, Perth (next to the Supreme Court of Western Australia) Hours: Tuesday to Friday 10.00am to 4.00pm Cost: Free entry Phone: (08) 9324 8688 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lotterywest has kindly provided a grant for exhibition fabrication and installation. Approximately one third of all money raised from the sale of Lotterywest Games is distributed through Lotterywest Grants to nearly 1000 different community organisations as well as the arts, sports, and health sectors.
Image courtesy of Justin Tonti-Filippini
History of the Old Court House
The Old Court House is Perth’s oldest public building and was the most prominent building in the early days of the Swan River Colony. For the first six years of the Colony, court was held in the Anglican Church of St James, a small building with rush walls and a thatched roof.
In 1836 Governor Stirling called for tenders for the construction of a new court and accepted the lowest bid of ₤698. The building was designed by the colony’s Civil Engineer, Henry William Reveley. When it opened in 1837 it also served as a church for all denominations and as a schoolroom.
Concert Hall The Old Court House was important in the early musical life of the colonists and was the scene of the first public concert. In 1846, Dom Salvado, a Spanish Benedictine Monk, gave a piano recital in the courtroom to raise funds to develop a mission. Salvado walked more than 100 kilometres to Perth from near New Norcia and gave a Bellini recital to a packed audience in the ragged clothes he arrived in.
Trial of John Gaven The trial of John Gaven, the first European executed in the Colony, took place in the Old Court House in 1844. Gaven, a petty thief, was 15 years old when he was transported from Parkhurst Prison on the Isle of Wight and apprenticed to the Pollard family in the South West. Within a few months of his arrival, he was accused of the murder of 18 year old George Pollard. He was found guilty in the Old Court House and was hanged three days later outside the Roundhouse in Fremantle on Easter Saturday.
In February 1849 a meeting of State importance was held in the Old Court House. In response to a labour shortage, farmers and merchants called a meeting at which a motion was passed in favour of a full penal colony. The following year convicts began to arrive.
The Old Court House was the venue for a public meeting to demand Representative Government. The demands were unsuccessful until 1870.
Arbitration Court From 1905 to 1964 the State Industrial Arbitration Court proceedings were held in the Old Court House.
Law Society of Western Australia
From 1965 to 1987 the Old Court House served as the office of the Law Society of Western Australia.
Francis Burt Law Education Centre and Museum In 1987 the building was refurbished, opened to the public and named the Francis Burt Law Education Centre and Museum, a community legal education centre and one of the few law museums worldwide.
Heritage Site In 1992 the Court House was listed by the National Trust as a Heritage Site.
Old Court House Law Museum In 2011 the Francis Burt Law Education Centre and Museum was renamed the Old Court House Law Museum.
Redesign of the Museum Thanks to funding support from Lotterywest, the Old Court House Law Museum has been undergoing a redesign since 2009.
To begin this redesign, an interpretation plan was commissioned and was completed in 2010. Following recommendations in the interpretation plan the Museum completed stage 1, an audio tour, in 2011.
Stage 2, the exhibition Small Court House, Big Stories: The first 50 years of law in Western Australia was completed in 2012.
Stage 3, People and the Law was installed in 2014 and the design for the stage 3, From Past to Present: The changing face of the law, is now complete.
The final stage of the redesign is expected to be completed by late 2016 subject to obtaining funding.
The Law Society, with sponsorship from the Department of the Attorney General, coordinates an inter-school Mock Trial Competition each year between students enrolled in years 10, 11 and 12.
What is a Mock Trial?
A mock trial is a simulated court case in which teams contest a fictitious Western Australian (WA) legal matter presented in the WA court system. The cases are presented by two teams – a prosecution/plaintiff team and a defence team – made up of students playing the roles of barristers, solicitors, witnesses and court officials.
The Mock Trial Competition provides an enjoyable, dynamic way of introducing students to the law. It provides students with an opportunity to learn valuable skills in research and the development and presentation of a persuasive argument.
The whole class can benefit by being involved in some of the suggested learning and teaching activities that can be used to help prepare the teams for the trial. Download a copy of the Mock Trial Curriculum Framework.
The Law Society’s Public Purposes Trust (the Trust) was established in 1985. “A copy of the deed establishing the Trust is set out in the Schedule to the Law Society Public Purposes Trust Act 1985 (WA) (the Act).” The Law Society of Western Australia (Inc) is the trustee of the Law Society Public Purposes Trust.
In its role as Trustee, the Law Society sets policies with regard to the investment of the Trust’s assets and provides administration services to the Trust. The Trust receives its income from two sources, being income from the Trust’s investments and 49% of the interest paid by banks, on Solicitors Trust Accounts in Western Australia.
The Law Society does not decide which applications are to receive funding. Applications for grants are assessed through an independent three stage process via an Allocations Committee and the Attorney General.
Embracing the law as part of our daily lives is important. From knowing our rights under the law, creating employment contracts, and to knowing how a mediation works, through to setting up a business, having a will prepared or simply knowing what to do and where to go for need legal assistance, the law plays a vital role.
Each year, Law Week showcases events which provide the opportunity for the community and the legal profession to engage in open dialogue and build a shared understanding of the role of law in society. It is an excellent opportunity for the profession to promote its role in enabling an open, independent and unbiased judicial system.
The Law Society of Western Australia showcases a series of events and information sessions focusing on law and justice in the community including:
Breakfast to open the week of events
The Attorney General’s Community Service Law Award
Mental Health seminar
Free information sessions and talks
Activities hosted by councils and community centres across Western Australia
Community events including activities for school students
Free legal advice – by appointment at specific locations
The Law Society of Western Australia is a constituent body of the Law Council of Australia
The Law Society acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land on which our building is located, the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation. The Law Society is committed to providing access to resources and services to meet the needs of a diverse community.