Welcome Wallumatta Legal: Is this the future of legal services for the ‘missing middle’?
Photos from the Wallumatta Legal launch
On 2 May 2022, an innovative new law firm, Wallumatta Legal, was ‘officially’ launched without fanfare, but with a purposeful strategic planning session which brought together its co-founders plus the ‘Friends of Wallumatta’ from across the legal, corporate, academic eco-system. The project’s name acknowledges the traditional owners of the land on which Macquarie University sits, the Wallumattagal clan of the Dharug Nation.
Wallumatta Legal is the result of a collaboration between global law firm DLA Piper and Macquarie University, evolving from research that identified family law as one of the biggest areas of unmet legal need in Australia. The Chair of Wallumatta Legal is Dr Gerry Bean. The Wallumatta Legal team includes Annette Bain (Access to Justice Consultant), Cameron Thomson (CEO), Vivian Galanis, (Principal Solicitor), Angelique Thomas (Solicitor) with another solicitor joining this month, alongside Dr Daniel Ghezelbash, an associate professor at Macquarie University. Macquarie Law School students can gain practical experience at a law firm on campus, learning how to deliver tech-driven legal services within an access to justice, client-first framework.
The new Sydney-based low fee, not-for-profit law firm, is seeking to lead the charge in providing family law services to the ‘missing middle’ – people who are ineligible for Legal Aid or pro bono services, but who cannot easily afford private lawyers.”. Wallumatta offers low fee, fixed fee pricing to reduce the access to justice gap, so that more people can access family law advice and assistance. Its stretch goal is to help make the phrase ‘missing middle’ redundant.
Currently operating in NSW, there are big plans to grow this model elsewhere in Australia and in the region. As Vivian Galanis, Principal Solicitor commented:
We are working hard to deliver family law services to those who would otherwise have little chance of getting this vital assistance. However, the mid to long term goal is to show that the Wallumatta Legal model can become self-sustaining. We want to show that it works and can be replicated in other locations and in other areas of law which have been inaccessible for too many Australians until now.
During its two-year pilot, Wallumatta will not be offering any pro bono assistance, to test the viability of this model.