Pro Bono Scheme


The Bar's commitment to Pro Bono is a demonstration of our members' deeply held belief in the importance of equal access to justice for all.

Not all members of our community have the means, the knowledge or the strength to fight for their rights. And the Victorian Bar recognises that.

We have a long history of giving legal assistance to people in need. It is one of the defining characteristics of our Bar. Our Pro Bono Scheme was established in 2000 to formalise the process and further the reach and access to the pro bono work carried out by our barristers.

Around 1000 members of the Victorian Bar participate in the Scheme, which is supervised by the Pro Bono Committee and administered by Justice Connect.

What sort of work comes under the Pro Bono Scheme?

The Victorian Bar Pro Bono Committee oversees the pro bono assistance provided to both individuals and community groups. This work includes advocating for human rights, environmental or social justice causes, and helping people from marginalised and disadvantaged backgrounds.

From people fighting extradition to everyday cases defending people charged with minor summary matters and infringable offences, the Victorian Bar’s barristers have stepped up to ensure that all individuals have access to legal representation regardless of age, gender, race, disability or socio economic hardship.

Pro Bono cases conducted at the Victorian Bar include complex long-running cases on such topics as Native Title, Refugees’ Rights, Climate Change and Environment, Animal Welfare and Sexual Discrimination. They can often involve up to several months of a barrister’s time.

What does the Scheme offer?

The types of assistance usually available through this Scheme are:

  • a preliminary advice as to the prospects of the case
  • preparation of court documents
  • representation at a hearing

In some cases, the assistance offered may be more limited in scope than the assistance requested.

Eligibility

To be eligible for assistance, you must be able to demonstrate to the administrators of the Scheme that:

  • you have a legal problem requiring the assistance of a barrister;
  • your case has legal merit;
  • you do not have the financial means to obtain legal assistance from a barrister on a full fee-paying basis;
  • you are unable to obtain appropriate legal assistance from any other source (including other legal assistance schemes); and
  • you have made an application for legal aid (unless it is obvious to the administrators that you are ineligible for legal aid), and either that application has been refused or no decision has been made in relation to the application.

The Pro Bono Scheme is not a substitute for legal aid. It was established in order to assist people in legal and financial need who cannot obtain appropriate legal assistance from another source.

Read the full eligibility guidelines here:

 

How to obtain assistance

The scheme is administered by Justice Connect on behalf of the Bar. To apply for assistance under the Victorian Bar scheme, please contact Justice Connect (contact details below) to discuss your eligibility for assistance.

Please note that you will also be required to provide information about your income, assets and financial resources as part of the application procedure.

Victorian Bar barristers' also offer assistance through Victoria Legal Aid and Disaster Legal Help

Justice Connect Contact information

Justice Connect
PO Box 16013
Collins St West VIC 8007

Tel: +61 3 8636 4400

Fax: +61 3 8636 4455

Email: jason.saultry@justiceconnect.org.au