Where to find Legal assistance
If you require legal advice there are a number of service providers within both the private and public sectors. Depending on your financial situation and the nature of your legal matter, you may be able to seek assistance from either a private lawyer or law firm, a public legal service, or a pro bono assistance scheme.
Private law firms
Finding a lawyer that is right for you can be overwhelming! However, there are many ways to find a lawyer which is right for you.
- The Law Society of Western Australia’s Referral Service.
The Law Society of WA’s Find Your Lawyer Referral Service can assist you in finding a lawyer. The Law Society connects members of the public with the local legal profession and provides access to useful legal resources for the community.
Free or Low Cost Services
There are many Western Australian organisations, community legal centres, and legal services that are providing free or low cost services in WA. Each service and organisation has their own eligibility requirements and practice areas.
This eligibility criterion is usually dependent on Federal funding and may change on short notice. Therefore each service should be checked individually.
Examples of low fee and probono organisations and services include:
- Legal Aid – information in Western Australia, including any available duty lawyer and minor assistance services for criminal, family and civil matters.
- Community Legal Centres Association (WA) – community legal centres throughout Western Australia and assistance with a range of legal issues.
- Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia.
- 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.
- Native Titles Representative Bodies and Service Providers.
- Women’s Legal Service of WA –provides legal assistance to women in WA who are facing disadvantage. Djinda services provides specialist legal and non-legal support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in the Perth metropolitan area who have experienced, or are at risk of, family violence or sexual assault.
Organisations and Services in other states and territories include:
- National Association of Community Legal Centres
- Australian Pro Bono Resource Centre;
- Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House Incorporated;
- Justice Connect (NSW and Victoria);
- Justice Net (South Australia);
- ACT Law Society; and
- Law Society Northern Territory.
Pro Bono Schemes
Pro bono services seek to provide assistance to members of the community that cannot afford the private services of a lawyer and who do not qualify for assistance from a public service provider.
- Law Access—assists not-for-profits and individuals in genuine need of legal assistance that satisfies a means and merits test. Eligibility criteria and the application form can be found on the website.
- Curtin Tax Clinic (CTC) – assists unrepresented taxpayers in meeting or complying with their taxation affairs. Eligibility and application to the clinic is completed on their website.
How to know a Lawyer is able to practice*
Information regarding a specific practitioner can be found with the Western Australian Legal Practice Board. This can includes information such as a list of practitioners who have faced disciplinary action, the date a lawyer got admitted, and whether an individual is in fact a practising lawyer.
For further information, please see:
- Legal Practice Board Website;
- List of lawyers with disciplinary action; and
- Status of admitted and practising lawyers.
Legal Aid Western Australia (Legal Aid) provides a duty lawyer service throughout Western Australia.
If you are unable to find a lawyer to assist you, or if you would like legal advice on the day your matter is heard before the Court, you may be able to see a duty lawyer.
A duty lawyer cannot assist with representation at trial but may be available to assist with legal options, how to progress your matter, or what you can expect to happen in Court.
A duty lawyer may be able to assist with matters such as:
- Criminal and traffic charges in the Magistrates Court or Children’s Court;
- Parenting and children’s issues in the Family Court of WA;
- Protection and care cases in the Children’s Court; and/or
- Family Violence Restraining Order applications.
If you would like to see a duty lawyer about criminal charges, a fee of $20 applies to see a duty lawyer in the Magistrates Court and $5 for concession card holders. It is free to speak to the duty lawyer if you are in custody or prison, or appearing within the Children’s Court.
For up-to-date and further information on the duty lawyer service, please see the Legal Aid website.