Law Access matches applicants for legal assistance to lawyers. Applicants may be individuals or not-for-profit organisations.

We provide a means-tested service designed to increase access to legal services where the application has legal merit and all other avenues of assistance have been exhausted such as Legal Aid WA, community legal centres and the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA.

Law Access also refers matters of public interest with potential flow-on benefits for disadvantaged and marginalised Australians.

We receive applications in all areas of the law, from all over the State.

We also explain to unsuccessful applicants why their matter has not been able to be referred. This may help some applicants better understand their rights or options to avoid costly self-representation.

Thanks to the direct in-kind support received from its sponsors and volunteers, Law Access operates with low administrative overheads.

History

The Law Access Pro Bono Referral Scheme was originally established by the Law Society of Western Australia in October 1992. The concept for the current Law Access service developed out of a feasibility study conducted by Kalico Consulting and funded by Lotterywest in 2013 – Doing the Public Good. A key recommendation in this report was the establishment of a single, efficient gateway for assessing applications for legal pro bono assistance.

Law Access Limited was established on 11 December 2014 and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Law Society. From 1 July 2015 the Law Access Pro Bono Referral Scheme has been delivered by Law Access Limited, a public benevolent institution registered with the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission.

Stakeholders

The work of Law Access is informed by a Stakeholder Advisory Committee with representatives from a diverse group including the Courts, Legal Aid, legal industry associations, community legal centres, university law schools and practitioner representatives (including from remote and regional areas).

The Law Access Board

Matthew Howard SC, Chairman and Director – Barrister, Francis Burt Chambers

Valerie French, OAM, Director

Adam Levine, Director – Partner, K&L Gates

Greg McIntyre SC, Director – Barrister, John Toohey Chambers

Marshall McKenna, Director – Partner, Gilbert + Tobin

Judy McLean, Director – Principal Solicitor, Fremantle Community Legal Centre

Professor Natalie Skead, Director – Dean and Head of School, UWA Law School

Clare Thompson SC, Director – Barrister, Francis Burt Chambers

Paula Wilkinson, Director – Director, Kim Wilson & Co