Information on the assistance available through Victoria's legal system
If you are in need of legal assistance for a personal or business problem, we have put together a list of Victorian organisations and websites to help you decide whether you need professional legal advice and the appropriate steps to take.
Your first step is to decide on your course of action, the type of lawyer you will need (barrister, solicitor, both) understand where to go to get assistance and get an estimate of costs. If you are eligible for funded legal assistance, you will need to know what resources are available and the guidelines for eligibility.
The Victorian Law Foundation's Everyday Law website was set up to provide clear and simple information to assist you to meet your legal needs. It explains your rights and responsibilities and how to get legal assistance.
I'm facing charges in the Magistrates' Court. What should I do?
BarristerCONNECT is a cost-effective, self-service portal offers members of the community facing criminal charges in the Magistrates' Court a convenient and secure way to connect with barristers at the Victorian Bar. It offers direct online access to legal expertise and representation in court. Once you fill in the online request form, you will be contacted about your case within 1 business day to discuss your case with no obligation to proceed.
I wish to engage a barrister directly
You can either search for a barrister on the Victorian Bar Website or contact one of the barristers' clerks to discuss your needs and get assistance in choosing the right barrister.
I need a solicitor
The Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) is the professional association for Victorian lawyers (solicitors).Their website provides information, resources and services to assist members of the community with legal needs, including advice on choosing the right lawyer and legal practitioners’ costs.
There are a number of options for free or reduced cost legal assistance in Victoria. For each of these options you will need to satisfy eligibility requirements to obtain assistance.
Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is an independent statutory body set up to help people with their legal concerns. It also provides funding for private lawyers to provide legal services to the public in the areas of criminal law, family law and some civil law matters. VLA will apply a number of tests to everyone who asks for legal assistance before it provides any services.
BarristerCONNECT is an excellent, cost-effective alternative for people facing charges in the Magistrates' Court who have been deemed ineligible for Legal Aid.
Community Legal Centres
There are over 50 Victorian community legal centres, which are sometimes referred to as CLCs. These centres are independent community organisations that provide free legal services to the public, especially those people who have nowhere else to go for help.
Pro Bono Assistance
Justice Connect administers the pro bono* schemes run by both the Victorian Bar and the Law Institute of Victoria acting as the central organisation for public enquiry, processing of applications and sourcing lawyers (both barristers and solicitors) who have volunteered to act pro bono for eligible parties. Justice Connect delivers access to justice through pro bono services to people experiencing disadvantage and the community organisations that support them.
*The term pro bono is short for the Latin "pro bono publico," which means "for the public good." In legal terms, the term generally refers to free services that a lawyer provides to those otherwise unable to access legal representation.