LawRight Newsletter - 12 May 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk 8

QLWdevice-01

Thank you to our wonderful legal community

Thank you to our wonderful legal community for supporting tomorrow’s Queensland Legal Walk. 900 walkers have registered and raised $110,000 so far.

We need $200,000 to continue operating our Magistrates Court and Financial Counsellor services for another year, so every donation helps.

Clayton Utz were 2021 Team fundraising champions. They note:

“The whole office gets behind this annual fundraising activity through sponsorship, firm-wide fundraising lunches, a Friday afternoon drinks trolley and a firm-wide raffle – with some very generous prize donations from Clayton Utz Partners and community donors (including City Winery, Bellezza Group, Jade Buddha, Australian Venue Co.).  Many of us are looking forward to walking on Tuesday morning in sunshine or rain!”

Level 27 Chambers are currently ahead as best barrister chambers. When encouraged to boast they responded:

“It’s not so much a question of competitiveness, most lawyers likely take pride in a job thoroughly and well done. Putting our skills towards supporting the wider community is no exception. We’ll leave the question whether we are the best prepared, best looking and most stylish to others, but if another chambers wishes to try and knock us off a perch, we’ll accept it as a challenge. Having recently completed a mountain marathon in Hobart, we look forward to seeing how many times Oliver Cook laps the rest of Chambers’ one loop.”

There are also trophies for best individual, law school and team spirit. We can’t wait to see where the flurry of late-minute donations takes the leader board, but it’s not too late to add your tax-deductible donation.

Screen Shot 2022-05-16 at 11.10.41 am

Please give generously. Donate here

Walks begin at 7 am tomorrow in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, the Sunshine and Gold Coasts, and Toowoomba as well as smaller groups walking in their neighbourhoods.

Dress for wet weather and celebrate the resilience and power of pro bono.



LawRight Newsletter - 12 May 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk 7

QLWdevice-01

When the glamour fades…

When the glamour fades…

Some financial products are marketed to young adults as the pathway to glamour but lead instead to vulnerable young people accumulating thousands of dollars of debt – impacting their capacity to sustain tenancies, support children or even buy food or medicine.

LawRight recently joined with Financial Counsellors Australia (FCA) to call for better regulation of financial products such as Afterpay and other Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) products.  Read the full story.  We consider the ASIC product intervention power is not sufficient to regulate BNPL as it does not appropriately and immediately respond to people in financial hardship or place clear guidelines on companies to lend responsibly and appropriately or to respond to hardship.
LawRight’s partnership for young adults at Brisbane Youth Service (BYS) integrates with our Financial Counsellor and frequently assists these young people.

A young client with multiple disabilities who met with us at BYS had accumulated $2000 of debts to three BNPL services. We resolved two of the debts but the final BNPL provider was unresponsive and could not be compelled due to the lack of protections that apply to other credit products. However, the advocacy and relationships of our Financial Counsellor resolved the debt. We were also able to meet with this provider to work together better next time.

Our client agrees with increased regulation and in response to our advocacy said: “a weight has been lifted and my confidence to move forward and be more financially secure has changed massively. The benefits to my mental health and wellbeing cannot be understated – it’s a completely different dynamic, it’s life changing, it feels very good to not have that weight anymore.”

 

Help keep our financial counsellor service open by generously donating
QLWdevice-01


No glamour on Tuesday but plenty of guts?

Gumboots and umbrellas may be required at the Brisbane walk on Tuesday?
Whether you walk or not, please knock LawRight’s team from the top of the fundraising  leader board with your gutsy giving.

Thanks to everyone who has registered so far, with more still joining!
50 teams
900 walkers
50+ members of judiciary registered
10 chambers
25 firms

Queensland Legal Walk, Tuesday May 17 at 7am


LawRight Newsletter - 10 May 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk 6

QLWdevice-01

Please donate before you walk

It’s one week to go before the Queensland Legal Walk – you can improve your well-being and increase access to justice at the same time!

Your donations keep vital LawRight services open, so please take the time to be generous and donate before you walk.

Donate to your favourite team at https://www.lawright.org.au/qldlegalwalk/.

Donate to your favourite person (yes – it can be yourself!) by searching their team and then searching team member.

Help keep our financial counsellor service open

Alex was offered a personal loan while he was experiencing significant mental health and addiction issues. His loan soon “blew out” to a $13,000 debt. We met Alex when he had committed to rehab, obtained work and was expecting a baby with his partner. But the stress of working overtime to pay off his debts concerned his psychologist, who referred him to LawRight. LawRight’s financial counsellor worked with our staff lawyers to achieve a complete waiver of the debt and repair of credit history. The financial counsellor also negotiated an affordable payment plan for Alex’s fines.

Alex wrote: “You all have been amazing and I cannot thank you all enough for helping me with the biggest thorn in my side which was the loan. The bank removed the entire loan and every missed repayment off my credit file which will help me so much in the future. This service to me is something that could change the lives of so many people that genuinely need it. I am very grateful.”

QLWdevice-01


LawRight Newsletter - April 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk 5

We’re excited – over 700 supporters have registered for the Queensland Legal Walk

We’re very excited – over 700 supporters have registered for the Queensland Legal Walk and more are joining everyday. If every walker raises $200 we’ll keep the Magistrates Court service open for people like Simon.

Simon is a young job-seeker with anxiety. He was one of the first clients of LawRight’s pilot Magistrates Court service. Simon’s key social interaction was a large social club. He’d been a member for years when he observed some improper financial transactions. When Simon raised this with the club executive, he was ignored and banned from the club. He was upset and voiced his concerns on social media, but was shocked when soon after, he was sued for defamation in the Magistrates Court for $70,000.

A regional Community Legal Centre helped Simon but attempts to negotiate were unsuccessful and the CLC connected Simon to LawRight. Pro bono lawyers have helped Simon over several months to prepare court documents and articulate his legal arguments. The matter is ongoing but LawRight’s help in defamation matters typically stops these conflicts escalating.
 
LawRight’s Health Justice Partnership at the Mater Young Adults Health Centre is another service that relies on our fund-raising.

Share housing is often challenging but even more for marginalised young adults. LawRight helped Rory, who told us:

“My roommate signed up to pay a debt belonging to a previous housemate for unpaid electricity bills. Without consulting, he signed us up to a pay a rate that factoring in Centrelink being my only income I was left without money to eat or function.

Mater staff suggested I tell LawRight, who “helped me plan and act out opening lines of communications with my roommates… and with the Energy Company and organisations to help. They made the process painless and were very helpful in providing knowledge about aspects of things I had totally no idea about. I would recommend LawRight to anyone in a position where they are overwhelmed… I always felt safe.”

QLWdevice-01

How to donate

It’s easiest to donate by selecting a team at lawright.org.au/qldlegalwalk.

Use the search function on the page to find your team. If you want to donate to an individual it is still easier to select their team first.

Team registration

Donations are tax-deductible.


LawRight Newsletter - April 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk 4

LawRight April 2022 – Financial counselling, domestic violence and toll fines

LawRight, with support from a member firm, gave evidence this week to a parliamentary committee about the use of discretion and debt infringement notices*. In preparation, we reviewed 20 cases where we assisted homeless (or at risk) clients with toll and camera offence fines. We confirmed:

  • 79-80% of fines debtors were female and had a history of domestic violence.
  • The average fine debt was >$10,000 per person. On average, 44% of that debt related to unpaid tolls, often acquired by their former partners.

Women in this situation are often unaware of the fine or unable to pay.

Annie’s violent partner acquired >$10,000 of speeding, parking and toll fines in her vehicle, but kept the mail from her. Annie only became aware of the debt when she separated. The debt payment plan she felt compelled to agree to, left her unable to afford rent or food and she slept in a tent on a friend’s property.

Clare fled a violent and controlling relationship but the bad tenancy history, bank and consumer debts followed her, as well as a fines debt of >$20,000. LawRight advocated with the DTMR to have all Clare’s toll fines cancelled, cleared her negative tenancy history and helped her resolve the other ‘sexually transmitted debts’.

Annie and Clare are typical of the women assisted by LawRight’s financial counsellor in collaboration with pro bono lawyers. That strategic combination also recently secured a $30,000 credit card debt waiver for a 60 year old woman on DSP who had left her violent long-term marriage and is now homeless. She wrote to us this week:

“I just wanted everyone at LawRight to know what a wonderful caring finance counsellor you have on your team.”

*Read our submission and or watch an ABC news story from September 2021 here.


LawRight Newsletter - April 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk 3

LawRight April 2022 – Queensland Legal Walk 3

Just before you relax….

We hope all LawRight supporters are planning a well-deserved rest, but before you log off for Easter, please register for the Queensland Legal Walk.

The BAQ President’s team have registered and are raring to walk at 7am, Tuesday 17 May. They’ve already raised over $900 for LawRight!

Prompt registrations save our small team time and encourage us. Please register your team or yourself today:
 

 
The walk will help keep the Magistrates Court self-representation service and financial counselling service open.

LawRight also self-funds our Health Justice Partnership at the Mater Young Adults Health Centre (MYAHC). One young adult receiving support at MYAHC shared:

“My roommate signed up to pay a debt belonging to a previous housemate for unpaid electricity bills. Without consulting,  he signed us up to a pay a rate that factoring in Centrelink being my only income I was left without money to eat or function. [Workers at MYAHC suggested I bring up the problem with LawRight]. [LawRight]  helped me plan and act out opening lines of communications with my roommates… and with the Energy Company and organisations to help. They made the process painless and were very helpful in providing knowledge about aspects of things I had totally no idea about. I would recommend Lawright to anyone in a position where they are overwhelmed… I always felt safe.”
 


LawRight Newsletter - March 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk 2

LawRight March 2022 – Queensland Legal Walk 2

Congratulations to North Quarter Lane chambers for being the first team to register and the first to donate – with a generous $777.

Prompt registrations save us time and encourage us. Please register your team or yourself today:

lawright.org.au/qldlegalwalk

If you want help to register, please email Ben at comms@lawright.org.au.

Please give

LawRight delivers two projects without government funding that risk closure:

  • Magistrates Court service for self-represented litigants
  • Financial counsellor for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness

Last week we spotlighted our financial counselling service and this week we look at the Magistrates Court Service.

Magistrates Court Spotlight

From July 2021, LawRight Court and Tribunal Services increased their services to self-represented litigants in the Magistrates Court, using self-generated funds and the support of pro bono firms to deliver appointments. This fledging service, which has already assisted 65 clients with over 141 legal issues, is now at risk of closure or significant reduction.

Most clients are involved in debt and contractual disputes, having received no legal advice to date. We also help a significant number of individuals trying to enforce judgment debts. Often another community legal centre has helped them obtain a judgment, but not to enforce it. We want to address this issue systemically as well as with the impacted individuals.

The service helped Ji-Min, who hired a car, which was stolen after her locked house was broken into and the car-keys taken. The hire car company started Magistrates Court proceedings for damages, arguing that Ji-Min failed to keep the car locked and the keys secure. She was told “she should have slept with the keys on her” and that if she didn’t propose a payment plan, costs would escalate. Ji-Min tried to prepare a defence but found the task too complicated, so she reached out to LawRight. A pro bono lawyer helped Ji-Min understand the court process and the deficiencies in the statement of claim and assisted her to respond with a settlement offer.

This outcome resolved months of stress for Ji-Min and ensured that court resources wouldn’t be wasted unnecessarily.

Join us for the 2022 Walk on 17 May and celebrate the power of pro bono.


LawRight Newsletter - March 2022 - Queensland Legal Walk

LawRight March 2022 – Queensland Legal Walk

Join us for the 2022 Walk on 17 May and celebrate the power of pro bono.

Walk with the crowd on the Brisbane waterfront or at your regional centre or local beauty spot, in a small group, or solo starting at 7 am. Celebrate the legal profession’s commitment to access to justice and register for the Queensland Legal Walk today!

Registrations are open for individuals and teams, click here

If your organisation or firm wants to create and be invoiced for a team, please email comms@lawright.org.au to get started.

Give

LawRight delivers two projects without government funding that risk closure:
Magistrates Court service for self-represented litigants
Financial counsellor for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness

$200,000 will keep these services open. We can achieve this if each walker raises $200 and each team raises $1,000+.
Financial Counsellor spotlight

275881155_5260692950650201_5117559805585881468_n

The Federal Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus QC visited LawRight’s partnership with Brisbane Youth Service last week to learn more about our integrated services.  Last year, our financial counsellor worked with staff and pro bono lawyers to help 78 people shift from homelessness to financial stability, resolving >$600,000 of fines and debts that impacted health and housing, and growing their financial literacy and awareness of legal rights.

Intergrated services make everyone stronger:

Screen Shot 2022-03-21 at 3.49.16 pm

Copyright © 2022 LawRIght, All rights reserved.


LawRight Newsletter - March 2022

LawRight March 2022

Chief Justice changes

Congratulations to the Honourable Justice Helen Bowskill on her appointment as the new Chief Justice of Queensland. We wish the Honourable Chief Justice Catherine Holmes AC all the best and are grateful for her strong support for LawRight over many years, especially in her role as our Patron. She led Queensland Legal Walks with as much cheer as she could muster at that time of day, enjoyed Street Soccer events with our homeless and community supporters and encouraged our staff and pro bono volunteers at every opportunity.

Queensland flooding

Our thoughts are with all those, including colleagues, who are impacted by recent flooding in Queensland and interstate. Thank you to the many firms that have offered additional pro bono support. LawRight will collaborate with the legal assistance sector to respond to requests for flood support and will assess any enquiries via our Pro Bono Connect team. We expect to see increased insurance claims, tenancy disputes, employment related issues and small business issues.

With 2022 giving every indication of being another year of challenge, let’s remember what we achieved together last year and the impact for our clients.

Community and Health Justice Partnerships resolved $1.2 million of unfair debts and fines last year for clients who didn’t realise their money challenges had a legal dimension.

Marli had kinship care of her young family members but her tenancy was at risk and she was buried in debt. Because debts and financial pressure impact a person’s well-bring and jeopardise their housing, LawRight prioritises this legal need. Over several months, our lawyers worked closely with Marli and her support networks to build mutual trust. By resolving her debts, we increased Marli’s capacity to focus on family and protect her tenancy. Marli’s confidence and skills to selfadvocate have grown as we worked together. She is still housed and remains connected to LawRight, reaching out when other issues arise.
Pro bono barristers and solicitors donated over 7,000 hours of expertise to resolve complex and stressful disputes in Queensland courts and tribunals.

B and A were disturbed by their neighbour’s conduct and complained to the neighbour’s employer. The employer held a confidential complaints process but took no disciplinary action. The neighbour commenced defamation action in the District Court about statements made during the confidential meetings. B and A wanted to settle the dispute but had exhausted their savings on private lawyers with no resolution and an inadequate defence being filed. LawRight’s rostered pro bono lawyers helped B and A amend their defence and make offers to settle and have the dispute mediated. Their neighbour agreed to attend mediation and after further advice and the efforts of a pro bono mediator, an agreement was reached and months of stress for B and A ended.

Full pro bono representation was provided in 113 matters where no other legal help was available.

For over five years and 500 hours, a pro bono firm helped resolve Thelma’s problem. Her daughter had borrowed $150,000 to buy herself a home. Ten years later, when Thelma got sick and was relying on Centrelink, she asked for the loan to be repaid. Her daughter refused, claiming the money was a gift. Caxton’s Seniors legal service connected Thelma to LawRight. The pro bono firm undertook extensive evidence gathering before filing proceedings, which settled close to the trial date.

2022 Queensland Legal Walk 

Mark your calendars for the Queensland Legal Walk on 17 May 2022. Join our legal community to celebrate the power of pro bono and raise funds for LawRight services.

Registrations will open soon.


LawRight Newsletter - December 2021

LawRight December 2021

Thank you…

As our 20th year wraps up, thank you for your support and we wish you all a relaxed holiday. We hope you enjoyed the recent profile of LawRight in Proctor: LawRight – Celebrating 20 years of good pro bono – Proctor (qlsproctor.com.au)

Annual Report Highlights

Your strategic pro bono efforts brings lasting and positive change for many vulnerable Queenslanders. Read the details in the Annual Report which also traces the history and highlights of each service over the last 20 years: https://www.lawright.org.au/lawright-annual-reports/

22,000 hours of pro bono legal services were delivered through LawRight -a significant decrease as covid restrictions limited our capacity to host pro bono students and professionals at each location but also enabled the efficiencies of volunteers working remotely. However, our pro bono partnerships at 22 courts, tribunals, community and health services continued to deliver outstanding impacts.

Here are five stories of pro bono persistence:

  • 90-year-old Bob owned a $100,000 share in a home with his son but family conflict forced him to leave his home and his belongings. Bob contacted his regional community legal service who wrote to his son but received no response, so they connected Bob to LawRight. A firm acted pro bono for over three years, taking Bob’s problem to the Supreme Court and negotiated a settlement to help Bob recover the money. Bob is now in a new home.
  • David had been sleeping rough for years but he built a good relationship with the 3rd Space pro bono lawyers and would often drop in for a chat and legal advice on different issues. When the council threatened to destroy his camp, David wanted to understand his rights. Through negotiations with the council, LawRight helped protect David’s camp while his application for housing was considered. David was prioritised and offered a suitable new home. He has re-located and remains happily housed.
  • Sam was a model prisoner and applied for parole, but by the time he was connected to LawRight, he’d been waiting 195 days for the Parole Board to make a decision – already 45 days longer than the law allowed. During the wait, his father had died and his mum became very ill, so Sam was anxious to care for her. Sam could read a bit but he couldn’t write, so pro bono lawyers helped him prepare and lodge an effective formal application to the Supreme Court to compel the Board to decide. LawRight provided 87 similar appointments to prisoners in 2021 as well as 177 self-help toolkits. We also collaborated with others to address the reasons for the delays.
  • “we’re there for the journey not the bandaid” according to financial counsellor, Natasha Ramsay who joined our Community and Health Justice Partnerships (CHJP) this year. With hours of persistent pro bono legal work, the CHJP facilitated the resolution of almost $1M of debts and fines which burdened our clients – people who experience homelessness, mental illness, are refugees or victims of sexual assault and are vulnerable to unfair or unlawful practices.
  • Over several years LawRight built trust and worked together to achieve a rare Forensic Order revocation. Karen is in her 70s but many years ago, during a relapse of her schizophrenia, she committed a minor property crime and reacted to the investigating police – due to her illness, she believed that they were trying to kidnap her. This resulted in assault charges and ultimately a Forensic Order. Karen has lived a very quiet life since and cooperated with her treating team but hasn’t moved off the Order as she is too anxious to attend Mental Health Review Tribunal hearings and won’t talk to LawRight staff for longer than 10 minutes. When she realized that a Forensic Order will limit her aged care support, Karen knew she could trust us and decided to try for a revocation. She succeeded even though the clinical evidence, client presentation and resistance from the Attorney-General have remained similar for some years. LawRight’s advocacy and persistence ultimately made the difference.

Red Wine for Justice

Mark your calendars now for Friday 18 February. Your tickets and donated wines have been safely cellared and we will issue reminders additional tickets in the new year.

AGM

The LawRight AGM was held on 22 November. We farewelled Katie Clark, Partner of MinterEllison who has been a member of the Management Committee since 2016 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
Stephen Knight, 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