22 March 2011

CLC's turning away legal talent

| johnboy
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Greens legal spokesperson Shane Rattenbury is is drawing attention to his budget submission to improve funding to Community Legal Centres:

“The time has come for Government action to help our Community Legal Centres reach their full potential. It is quite well accepted now that a CLC Office Hub is the next step we need to take.

“CLCs are being held back from reaching their full potential because they forced to turn away lawyers who want to come in and help out, free of charge. All this because they don’t have a desk to offer.

“If these lawyers were given a desk in a CLC Office Hub, we could harness the full potential of CLCs and enable them to reach out further and help more people in need.

Seems rather sensible.

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CLCs are fantastic institutions, and are largely unrecognised. In my experience they’re the sort of outfits that people don’t know about or appreciate until they have use for their services. (Much like, say, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman). More funding, more space for volunteers, and more encouragement for legal bods to do pro bono work for them would be great.

This is interesting. I definitely would not call myself legal talent in any way but I emailed/called most CLCs in my last year at uni hoping to do some casual admin/legal volunteering and none of them had any space for volunteers. Several didn’t even get back to me. (Street Law said they had space when they just opened, but then I got a paying job.) It’s possible they have more brilliant help than they ever could need but I suspect organisational/logistical difficulties are more likely. It would be good if they got more funding.

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