The Impact Report allows Law Access and our funders, donors and stakeholders to better understand the impact of the service. The findings of the Impact Report will also inform the development of the service in 2020.
Our first Impact Report measures the three main ways in which Law Access catalyses change through:
Providing a pro bono gateway for applicants
Law Access acts as a gateway matching individuals and not-for-profits with pro bono lawyers once we have assessed applicants as meeting our means and merit assessments. Law Access does not provide legal advice or information directly. We communicate with applicants by telephone, post and email and require a written application document and relevant supporting documents before we can assess whether applicants meet our referral criteria.
Where an applicant meets our referral criteria we de-identify the matter and advertise it to the legal profession. We usually receive expressions of interest for matters that we advertise but where we do not, we directly approach lawyers who are on our internal pro bono lawyer database.
We advise unsuccessful applicants why their matter cannot be referred and where appropriate we warm refer them to a more appropriate service provider. For example we warm refer many applicants each year back to Legal Aid, or community legal services.
Providing training, support and volunteer initiatives for lawyers and students
Law Access relies on volunteer and secondee lawyers, legal assistants, law students and graduates completing their Practical Legal
Training to help us to deliver our service within our limited resources. The students and graduates who volunteer with us form part of a “pro bono pipeline” which is helping to build pro bono culture within the Western Australian legal profession.
In areas of high unmet legal need such as Judicial Review for asylum seekers we may identify the need to train and upskill lawyers in order to maximise our pro bono referrals. This is done through provision of training and mentoring by existing experienced pro bono lawyers in our networks.
Advocacy for policy and law reform
The work of Law Access is informed by a Stakeholder Advisory Committee with representatives from a diverse group including the Courts, Legal Aid Western Australia, the Western Australian Bar Association, the Criminal Lawyers Association of Western Australia, The Family Law Practitioners Association, community legal centres, university law schools and practitioner representatives from remote and regional areas as well as from small, medium and large law firms.
In 2016 the Law Access Stakeholder Advisory Committee established a Research Advisory sub-Group with representatives from Law Access and the five University Law Schools. The group has adopted a priority research agenda to build evidence about unmet legal need and effective pro bono and legal assistance interventions in Western Australia.
Law Access also works closely with our parent body the Law Society of Western Australia on access to justice issues and our CEO is an ex officio member of the Society’s Access to Justice Committee.