Law Access Ltd was awarded a $266,000 grant from Lotterywest this week, which respectively coincided with the celebration of the service’s first year of incorporation.
The cheque was presented by the Attorney-General and Commerce Minister, the Hon. Michael Mischin MLC at a function hosted by law firm MinterEllison on 7 December 2015.
As a pro bono clearing house, Law Access matches individuals and community organisations with pro bono lawyers. It previously existed as a pro bono referral scheme within the Law Society of Western Australia but became its own separate entity in December 2014 to deliver a more tailored service to its clients.
This operational change has helped to cater for the growing number of referral rates. Law Access has already made more than 76 pro bono referrals since 1 July 2015 compared to 40 referrals for the same period last year, an increase of 90% to date.
The clearing house mainly acts as a last resort for applicants, particularly when all other avenues of free legal assistance such as Legal Aid or community legal centres have been exhausted.
For this reason, Law Access Chairperson Matt Keogh finds the grant has come at a crucial time in the establishment of Law Access and its enhanced pro bono referral service.
“As demand for legal assistance exceeds funding for Legal Aid and community legal centres, it is vital to be able to connect those most in need of legal help with the generous lawyers willing to help out,” Mr Keogh said.
“The generous lawyers who take Law Access referrals work in many different areas of law and come from small, medium and large firms, with some being sole practitioners as well as many barristers.”
Those interested in hearing more about Law Access can visit their website at www.lawaccess.net.au/law-access/.