Justice Connect - 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.
The Victorian Bar’s Pro Bono Scheme is making a real difference in the community. Pro bono work dramatically changes people's lives for the better because it enables people to access justice and defend their legal rights. Watch the video below to see how barristers undertaking pro bono work for Maria and Betty helped them deal with their complicated legal issues and save them from homelessness.
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 infringeable 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.
The types of assistance usually available through this Scheme are:
In some cases, the assistance offered may be more limited in scope than the assistance requested.
To be eligible for assistance, you must be able to demonstrate to the administrators of the Scheme that:
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:
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 through their online legal help tool.
Please note that you will also be required to provide information about your income, assets and financial resources as part of the application procedure.
The Victorian Bar has a proud culture and tradition of providing pro bono assistance, which gives vulnerable members of the community the opportunity to access justice and pursue their rights under Australian law.
The Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards recognise barristers who make an outstanding contribution representing parties on a pro bono basis.
Nominations for the 2021 Victorian Bar Pro Bono Awards are now open. Barristers and other legal professionals are invited to nominate a barrister or team of barristers who have made an outstanding contribution to parties by representing them on a pro bono basis during 2019 and 2020.
Nominations may be made using the nomination form here.
The Awards ceremony is scheduled for Monday, 5 May 2021 in the Supreme Court Library.
Nominations are open until Wednesday, 31 March 2021.