LawRight Newsletter - May 2021 (Queensland Legal Walk - 3)

LawRight May 2021

Why support pro bono?

Barrister Salwa Marsh raised over $4,000 for the 2020 Queensland Legal Walk to become the individual fundraising champion – a highlight in her career-long support of LawRight.

Salwa
‘I started my association with LawRight (or QPILCH as it was at the time) as a graduate rotating into Minter Ellison’s Community Investment Program. Spending my Thursdays at the QPILCH Homeless Persons’ Legal Clinic in Fortitude Valley was my first experience of working directly with clients. It was an enormously rewarding experience for me professionally and personally. I learnt what I think is the key to a career in the law – a love of working with people, often during very difficult and stressful times in their lives, to help them solve problems.More years later than I care to admit, I have continued my involvement with LawRight as a volunteer and enthusiastic Legal Walker. LawRight do so much with so little – I consider it a great privilege to assist in the small ways that I can. Just as I did as a graduate many years ago, I find pro bono work and fundraising support an extremely rewarding opportunity to use my skills meaningfully to contribute to the lives of others and an invaluable opportunity to learn.’

Time to give
 
The Walk is on Tuesday 18 May. You still have time to register and fundraise.We will achieve our goal of $200,000 if you raise more than $200 as an individual or $1000 as a team.
Hustle, budget, party, bake or auction if you want to become a champion like Salwa.

LawRight relies solely on your fundraising to continue our:

  • New pilot service for self-represented litigants in the Magistrates Court
  • Health Justice Partnership at Mater Young Adults Health Centre
  • Financial counsellor service for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness
  • Disbursement fund, supporting pro bono work by Community Legal Centres and the legal profession.

Register or donate today

Have questions?

Please contact our Walk team at comms@lawright.org.au if you want help to:

  • gather a regional team
  • decide what location works best for you
  • register yourself or a team
  • connect to a team your firm or organisation has already registered (or try using the unique team registration link provided to the team organiser)


LawRight Newsletter - April 2021 (Queensland Legal Walk - 2)

LawRight April 2021

7am Tuesday 18 May, across Queensland

How to Walk

 

1. Register
 
Register to participate in the 2021 Queensland Legal Walk at lawright.org.au/qldlegalwalk. If you are joining an existing team, please use their unique registration link, or email us at comms@lawright.org.au.

Your registration is the first step in supporting pro bono services. It also provides you with a fundraising link where your friends, family and community can also donate to the walk.

Register today

2. Decide where to walk

It’s the age of flexibility! Walk the way you want – the traditional Brisbane waterfront route, with a small team in your local beauty spot or in your neighbourhood, starting at 7 am. There will be an optional LIVE Facebook feed to watch/listen to while you walk.

Visit lawright.org.au/where-to-walk to see where Walks are planned or add your own local Walk if you would like to share it.

Currently we have designated Walk locations in:

– Brisbane CBD
– Gold Coast
– Sunshine Coast
– Toowoomba
– Cairns

Other Walk meeting points will be listed as well.

Have questions?

Please contact our Walk team at comms@lawright.org.au if you want help to:

  • gather a regional team
  • decide what location works best for you
  • register yourself or a team
  • connect to a team your firm or organisation has already registered (or try using the unique team registration link provided to the team organiser)


LawRight Newsletter - April 2021 (Queensland Legal Walk)

LawRight March 2021

We walk to support people like Sylvie:

Sylvie is a young person who struggles with pain and fatigue, but it wasn’t until midway through her nursing studies (and a battery of tests and medical appointments) that she was diagnosed with a chronic, degenerative health disorder. Adjusting to her condition, including surgery and learning to use a wheelchair, was physically and mentally overwhelming. Sylvie was determined to continue her studies, however her workload was challenging. With help from a psychologist in the Mater’s Young Adult Support Unit (YASU – a multi-disciplinary team), Sylvie applied to defer some assessment and provided medical and background reports. Sylvie and YASU were both disappointed when the University rejected the request and recommended she withdraw, even after she appealed.

Sylvie was then connected to LawRight and we advocated with the university which apologised, reinstated Sylvie and offered her additional support. It shouldn’t have taken a lawyer’s letter but until systems are improved, LawRight loves to address access to justice gaps. We are now working with Sylvie on her access to Centrelink and NDIS support.

LawRight is embedded two days per week at the Mater Young Adults Health Centre in a Health Justice Partnership which receives no government funding. The HJP collaboratively addresses the legal needs of young people managing chronic and complex health problems.

You can support the HJP by registering for the Queensland Legal Walk on 18 May 2021.

Where will we walk?

It’s the age of flexibility! Walk the way you want – the traditional Brisbane waterfront route, with a small team in your local beauty spot or solo in your front yard, starting at 7 am. We are also gathering walkers in regional locations and will bring everyone together with our digital broadcast of conversations, interviews and stories.

We’d love to help

Please contact our Walk team at comms@lawright.org.au if you want help to:

  • gather a regional team
  • decide what location works best for you
  • register yourself or a team
  • connect to a team your firm or organisation has already registered (or try using the unique team registration link provided to the team organiser)

Register today

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LawRight Newsletter - Stories of good pro bono and Newsflash

 
 
LawRight_Logo_CMYK_POS
 
 
Newsflash - Parole Board delays

LawRight State Courts office is grappling with a sudden rise in requests for assistance from individuals awaiting parole decisions. These individuals want help to commence a court application to force a decision from the Parole Board of Queensland. 

In the last three weeks, we have received 33 requests for assistance and have 20 clients waiting for appointments.  While we hope to develop pro bono and self-help resources for this cohort, we also support the concerns of the Prisoners’ Legal Service (PLS) who estimate that currently, no prisoners are having their parole applications considered within the mandatory statutory period of 150 days.

PLS says matters are taking up to 250 days at an estimated cost to the state of $3.9 million per month for the additional days applicants spend in prison. This does not including the social cost to the individual and community.

PLS suggest the driver of the delay is a backlog at the Parole Board caused by an increasing prison population. Read the PLS submission here.
 

Screen Shot 2021-03-05 at 11.15.29 am
Last week we listed three LawRight projects which rely on your fundraising support at the Queensland Legal Walk. Here are two stories from these projects.

 
Beyond homelessness: Financial counsellor

At a glance: With a 12-month grant from Brisbane City Council, we employed a financial counsellor to help clients move beyond homelessness into financial strength, through our Community and Health Justice Partnerships. The financial counsellor asks clients:  What prevents you moving forward? Where do you want to go and how can you get there? and How can you stay in your new “place”?, empowering vulnerable people to participate in their own solutions and increase their options through accessing their legal rights.

The project is at the halfway mark but already we have assisted 45 clients intensively.  We want to keep our financial counsellor on the team for another year so she can keep helping people like Jackie.

Jackie's Story

Jackie is almost 70 and after years of employment as an articulate professional she should be relaxing in the home she and her late husband built 40 years ago. Sadly, Jackie’s daughter, who lives with her on and off, has a long term substance addiction. In Jackie’s efforts to care (and maintain her tough, independent approach to life!), she spent all her savings, superannuation and home equity trying to support her daughter.

We met Jackie at an inner-city community service where our lawyers are embedded with front-line staff. By this time, Jackie had lost her home and was facing eviction from a tenancy. As well as bank-rolling the addiction, she was paying off >$55,000 of debts to multiple creditors, and not making rental payments. 

Our financial counsellor has worked with Jackie for 5 months now - to negotiate with the landlord to delay the eviction; connect Jackie to services that can shift her carer burden and get more support for herself; re-establish connection to supportive family members; and, plan how to safely begin a new tenancy, with access to bond loans and rental supports. By working closely with our pro bono and staff lawyers, $20,000 of debts have been waived so far and Jackie is beginning to feel hopeful. “We’re there for the journey not the band-aid” says Tash, our financial counsellor.

Jackie shared: I can't tell you how much it means to me for the help you are giving me. For the first time in many years I don't feel completely alone. 

 
LawRight's Passport project is proudly supported by Brisbane City Council for 12 months.


Magistrates Court pilot self-rep service 

At a glance: LawRight receives 10-15 enquiries weekly for civil law services in Magistrates Courts across Queensland. This is the proverbial iceberg's tip and in a jurisdiction up to $150,000, vulnerable litigants can be severely impacted without targeted assistance.  We commence a 2 year-pilot in the Magistrates Court this month, using our existing service model for self represented litigants in the higher state courts. LawRight already delivers a weekly duty-barrister service for Magistrates Court enforcement hearings and the occasional stretch to help a Magistrates Court litigant, but the new pilot will consistently help litigants throughout Queensland.

With the support of all firms currently rostered with our States Court office, a re-allocation of government funds, a self-funding commitment from the LawRight Management Committee and the support of a long-term secondment from Corrs Chambers Westgarth, we’ll be able to help people like Lee.

Lee's story

Lee ran a small family restaurant but had to close the business, complaining that his landlord refused to repair leaks, flooding and plumbing problems which interfered with his business. The landlord sued Lee for unpaid rent and property damage, and when Lee got the court documents he was overwhelmed and had no money for lawyers. He reached out to LawRight for help less than a week before he had to file a defence.

Lee has minimal English but over 18 months, volunteer lawyers from five law firms helped him take each step – filing a defence, amending documents, writing to the landlord’s lawyers, making a counterclaim and offering to settle. The landlord refused all attempts to negotiate and it looked like the matter would go to trial. After 60 hours of pro bono legal efforts, and in the middle of helping Lee subpoena witnesses for trial, we encouraged Lee to make one last settlement offer. The landlord ultimately accepted and the matter was resolved. 

Lee shared: “...thank you for all the help that you have given me in the past year and a half.... I am very grateful for all you have done for me and I can’t thank you enough.”
 
Queensland Legal Walk

You can support these vital services by registering for the Queensland Legal Walk on 18 May 2021.

Register now
 
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*LawRight stories are de-identified for privacy

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LawRight Newsletter - March 2021

LawRight March 2021

LawRight began in 2001 and we are celebrating 20 years of good pro bono throughout 2021. The Queensland Legal Walk is our first party of many this year.

LawRight started with a small group of lawyers concerned about lack of access to civil law services in Queensland. They believed a “clearing-house” approach would be the most efficient and targeted response to community need.
Incorporated on 8 June, 2001 as QPILCH, we have grown, matured and changed our name. The profession now delivers over 33,383 hours of legal services annually, at 21 locations through LawRight.

Thank you to the pioneers at this historic event 20 years ago:

– Allens, Andrew Buchanan
– King & Wood Mallesons, Hugh Scott-Mackenzie
– Ashurst, Lucy Bretherton
– Clayton Utz, Geoff Harley
– MinterEllison, Robert Reed
– McCullough Robertson, Peter Rosengren
– Legal Aid Queensland, Simon Cleary
– Queensland Law Society, John Hodgins
– Bar Association of Queensland, Dan O’Connor (apology)
– Griffith Law School, Jeff Giddings
– Community Legal Centres Queensland, Merran Lawler

Queensland Legal Walk

The Queensland Legal Walk unites communities to celebrate pro bono and raise funds to increase Queenslanders’ access to the legal system.

Tuesday 18 May 2021 at 7am

Live + Online

Join us for the 2021 Walk and celebrate 20 years of LawRight doing good pro bono in and with our community.

You might walk in a crowd on the Brisbane waterfront or regional centre, in a small team in your local beauty spot or solo wherever you choose, starting at 7 am. We’ll bring everyone together with our digital broadcast of conversations, interviews and stories.

Celebrate the legal profession’s commitment to access to justice and register for the Queensland Legal Walk today!

Register now!

Walk + Give

Queensland still needs good pro bono to achieve access to justice so we’ve set an ambitious fund-raising goal of $200,000.

We want each walker to raise $200 and each team to raise over $1,000.

LawRight relies solely on your fund-raising to continue our:
• New pilot service for self-represented litigants in the Magistrates Court
• Health Justice Partnership at Mater Young Adults Health Centre
• Financial counsellor service for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness
• Disbursement fund, supporting pro bono work by Community Legal Centres and the legal profession.

Sign up

Register for the Queensland Legal Walk 2021

$40 per adult and $30 for students

If you want to create a team or ask any questions about the walk, please email
comms@lawright.org.au


LawRight Newsletter - Summer Reads #4

LawRight Summer Reads #4
Happy new year and Happy Birthday!

Happy New Year! This is our last Summer Read and we hope you have enjoyed highlights from the 2019/20 Annual Report. We are excited for the challenges of 2021 – especially because LawRight is turning 20!

Please plan to join our celebrations, including at three big events [which will be in person or virtual or a combination] – book your calendars now!

Queensland Legal Walk – Tuesday, 18 May @ 7am
Red Wine for Justice – Friday, 6 August @ 6pm
Public Interest Address – Monday, 25 October @ noon

And get set for photos from the archive all year round.



LawRight Newsletter - Summer Reads #3

LawRight Summer Reads #3

The solicitors won the LawRight Debate in November 2019 (Should courtrooms be left to the specialists?), so hopefully this summer read evens the scales.


Better with Barristers

LawRight’s Court & Tribunal Services helped 778 clients in 2019/20 to navigate civil law proceedings in the Queensland Court of Appeal, Supreme and District Courts of Queensland, Magistrates Court Enforcement Hearings, QCAT, the Federal Courts and the Mental Health Review Tribunal. Pro bono contributions from busy barristers make a big impact. In 2019/20, 92 member barristers, including 19 QCs, accepted pro bono briefs for appearances, mediations and advice on prospects, or joined our “duty barrister” rosters.


Magistrates Court Enforcement Hearings

J & J borrowed $25,000 from friends to get their business through a “rocky patch”, but while they were interstate with a family emergency, the friends enforced the debt without their knowledge. J & J would have defended the proceeding if they had known they existed. LawRight advised them of their options and negotiated with the creditor on their behalf. Even though J & J provided the relevant documents, the creditor wanted to cross examine them on their bank records. Our pro bono barrister appeared for J & J and was able to have the enforcement hearing proceeding dismissed. After court, the volunteer barrister negotiated realistic repayments and now the business is back on track.

 

Training barristers

Damien O’Brien QC and Matthew Jones, former LawRight President, increased the number of barristers on our enforcement hearings “duty barrister” roster with their in-person and on-line training to 45 barristers. It is unusual for barristers to appear in this forum, but it made a big difference to the 48 clients we assisted before COVID forced court closures.


Stepping in to help

A worker at Julie’s daughter’s childcare kept complaining to Julie about another parent at the centre, including serious allegations that the parent wasn’t safe.
Julie was concerned and informed the centre management. She was shocked when months later she was served with court documents alleging she had defamed this parent when she passed on the information.

Julie lives with speech, reading and memory impairments and couldn’t afford a lawyer. Julie filed a defence but was told by lawyers for the other side that it was deficient, liable to be struck out and that Julie would be responsible for their costs. She was highly distressed. Her regional community legal centre didn’t have the resources to help with complex litigation and helped her apply to LawRight.

Rostered pro bono lawyers listened to Julie, helped her understand the complexity of the claim and discussed her options. Staff lawyers helped her correspond with the other side, request more time and amend her defence. The court had a hearing on procedural matters and we helped Julie prepare and consent. The matter was set down for mediation.

LawRight knew Julie would struggle to represent herself at the mediation, so a firm, a QC and his junior agreed to appear pro bono. The pro bono lawyers negotiated the discontinuance of the proceedings against Julie, with no order as to costs – a huge relief.


Reviewing government decisions

Pro bono barristers and lawyers contributed to 12 successful reviews ny QCAT of decisions to withhold Blue Cards from applicants. In Queensland a Blue Card is required to work or volunteer with children. Reviews can take up to three years and disproportionately impact survivors of domestic violence or residents of remote communities who struggle to navigate the government process.


Read more in our Annual report


LawRight Newsletter - Summer Reads #2

LawRight Summer Reads #2
From 3rd Space to Zig Zag

LawRight’s Community and Health Justice Partnerships nurture partnerships at 17 different community and health services. Our staff and pro bono lawyers work on-site with doctors, social workers and community professionals to solve complex problems together, instead of “siloed” processes that leave disadvantaged clients on a “referral roundabout”.

In 2019-20, LawRight’s C&HJP’s delivered 15,000+ hours of pro bono help to 540 clients, most of whom received over 10 hours of legal services.


3rd Space – a Fortitude Valley drop-in centre

T. left home at 16, and has lived with violence for most of his life. His partners used his credit to cover their own purchases and left him with utilities debts after relationship breakdowns. He can’t afford safe housing because he pays 50% of his income to creditors. Pro bono lawyers vigorously negotiated his $12,000 of debt with the Administrator, creditors and the Australian Financial Security Authority, reducing it to nil.


Multicultural Australia – partnering with Corrs Chambers Westgarth since 2007

“I joined the Refugee Civil Law Service to assist refugees experiencing disadvantage in Australia. I have assisted clients from Iraq, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia with debt collectors, car accidents and even just incorrect billing details. English is not usually the first language of clients, which is an unfortunately common factor in how their situations ended up requiring legal intervention. So it’s rewarding resolving a matter, knowing someone is genuinely better off from your assistance.”

– Volunteer lawyer


Anglicare Homelessness Services Hub, Cairns

Joe, a former truck driver with limited literacy, had been living in a homeless hostel for more than 6 months with advanced terminal cancer at the time he saw LawRight. We helped him access >$67,000 from his super fund, arrange a will, liaise with Centrelink and work with his doctor to consider an Advanced Health Directive. Joe used the money to rent accommodation for himself and his elderly mother. He also fixed up his car for a last big road trip, his final wish as an old truckie.


Mater Young Adults Health Centre

“As the Director of the Mater Young Adult Health Centre (MYAHC) I have seen first-hand the immense benefits of the Health Advocacy Legal Clinic here at the Mater. At MYAHC we work with young people facing significant medical conditions. The effect of having legal problems on top of existing medical challenges places considerable additional burdens on these young people. With the support and advocacy of the [LawRight] team, these legal concerns are often able to be addressed swiftly and comprehensively. This is transformative for young people in these situations as they previously had believed these legal concerns to be insurmountable.”

– Dr Simon Denny, MYAHC Director


Zig Zag

“Young women living with the impacts of sexual violence have a myriad of complex systems and issues to navigate upon their roads to stable housing and personal recovery. LawRight and its volunteers have made such a difference to many young women.”

– Community Worker


Read more in our Annual report


LawRight Newsletter - Summer Reads #1

LawRight Summer Reads #1

While you are sipping something cool, snoozing after a bush walk or recovering from a family feast, you can binge-read our Annual Report or alternatively work your way through the highlights in this weekly series. Enjoy!


The Big Quiz

Q1. How many pro bono hours did the legal profession deliver through LawRight in 2019-20?

a.    29, 904
b.    33,383
c.    38,983

(Answer B. 33,383. If you answered 29,904 that was our 2018-19 pro bono hours, so let’s aim high for 2020-21)

Q2. Is 778 the annual number of:

a.    clients of our Court and Tribunal Services, incorporating the former Self Representation Service
b.    applicants seeking referral to a law firm for pro bono representation?
c.    number of “secondary consultations” our lawyer offers health workers on-site at Wuchopperen Health Service, growing their capacity to understand the legal needs of clients?

(Answer A. We had 819 applications for pro bono referrals and delivered an estimated 900 secondary consultations.)

Q3. At how many different locations is LawRight embedded on-site?

a. 11
b. 16
c. 20

(Answer C. We are co-located at 20 community and health organisations or courts and tribunals, and have one central office)

Q4. How many QCs are members of LawRight?

a.    9
b.    19
c.    29

(Answer B)

Q5. What was the size and complexity of Violet’s telco debt?

Violet was homeless as a teenager and now lives in social housing. She was “broke as hell” when she asked her telco to repair her phone. Instead they signed her up to a more expensive contract. She was now $2,400 in debt and the telco wanted the phone back. LawRight spent 6 months chasing details of the debt while the telco repeatedly assigned the debt to multiple collections companies.

After LawRight raised concerns of inappropriate contracting, failure to conduct correct credit assessments and breaches of consumer protection obligations with the telco and the Ombudsman, the debt was waived and Violet could keep the phone. Violet stays connected with her lawyers, her housing is stable, “finances in order and everything has been really good for her”.


Read more in our Annual report


LawRight Newsletter - December 2020

Celebrating 2020

Although 2020 offered many challenges, your pro bono efforts brought lasting and positive change for many.

The legal profession delivered 33,383 pro bono hours in 2019/20 through LawRight – increasing access to justice at 21 community, health and court locations.

From supporting a woman with disabilities at a defamation mediation, to helping a young survivor of sexual violence navigate Centrelink, or restoring dignity to an elderly Torres Strait Islander women who lived without hot water for 8 months  – these opportunities to bring change are the reason LawRight exists.

Our Annual Report has all the details – of our legal casework and services, law reform, events and supporters. It is a “blockbuster”, featuring stories and impacts from each of the locations where we partner. We hope you enjoy it and will bring you highlights from the report in a summer newsletter series, starting in December.


Reconciliation Action Plan

LawRight is both proud and privileged to have launched our RAP. For centuries the legal system has added to challenges faced by First Nations people, and LawRight believes this places an additional responsibility on lawyers to provide constructive and culturally safe services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. LawRight’s new Acknowledgment of Country echoes the aspirations of the Uluru Statement, which we whole-heartedly support.


AGM

As well as tabling the Annual Report and launching the RAP, we also launched our new website.

at our recent AGM. We farewelled Damien O-Brien QC and Matthew Jones from the Management Committee and are grateful to all new and continuing members of the Committee.

LawRight Management Committee 

President – Roslyn Atkinson AO

Treasurer – Tony Denholder, Ashurst

Secretary – Gabriella Ritchie, McCullough Robertson

Tania Boal, MurphySchmidt

Katie Clarke, MinterEllison

Jacqueline Wootton, Herbert Smith Freehills

Francesca Bartlett, TC Beirne School of Law

Andrew Crowe QC, BAQ

Binny De Saram, QLS

Angela Rae of Counsel

Hamish Clift of Counsel


Every Step Counts

Seventeen LawRight staff registered for the recent Darkness to Daylight challenge to raise awareness for women experiencing domestic violence. Each participant walked, ran or cycled 100km throughout October or teamed up to count joint kms. LawRight has supported D2D every year since its creation in 2014 by our Life Member Rob Reed.


Summer break

We hope you enjoy a refreshing summer break. LawRight offices are closed from COB Wednesday, 23 December 2020, reopening on Monday, 11 January 2021. Next year LawRight turns 20 and we are already planning a series of celebrations, which we look forward to sharing with you in the new year. 


2021 dates

Queensland Legal Walk – Tuesday 18 May
Red Wine for Justice – Friday 6 August
Public Interest Address – Monday 25 October