For the Community

Community Legal Resources Francis Burt Law Education Programme

Francis Burt Law Education Programme


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
  • the Hypothetical
  • 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

Old Court House Law Museum

Old Court House Law Museum


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

The museum is a community service managed by the Law Society of Western Australia and sponsored by the Public Purposes Trust and the Department of the Attorney General.

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.

Old Court House Law Museum

Image courtesy of Justin Tonti-Filippini

History of the Old Court House

Early Days
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.

Read more

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.

Representative Government
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.

For more information about the museum’s history please read The Old Court House: A Brief History.

Proudly supported by:

Mock Trial Competition

Mock Trial Competition


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.

For more information

Please contact the Mock Trial Co-ordinator or (08) 9324 8604.

Proudly Supported by

Funded by

Founding Sponsor

Department of the Attorney General

Supporting Sponsor

Murdoch University
Public Purposes Trust

Public Purposes Trust


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.

For more information please read frequently asked questions.

Law Week

Law Week


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
  • Lawyer of the Year Awards
  • Cocktail evening to close Law Week

A number of events support the Chief Justice’s Law Week Youth Appeal Trust through donation of part profits.