Getting legal help
Welcome to the 'Getting legal help' section of our website. This area has been divided into the sections listed below. For more information in relation to one of the sections, simply click on the link.
Finding the right lawyer
Community legal centres, Victoria Legal Aid and pro bono/legal assistance schemes provide free legal services to the public. There are eligibility criteria for assistance. Private lawyers charge clients for their services, however some lawyers offer an initial free thirty minute consultation or accept clients on a “no win no charge” basis.
The information here is to help you find the right organisation to help you. If you are unsure, you can call the Federation (03) 9652 1500 or your local community legal centre for help. Down load the PDF for more information
Community Legal Centres
Community legal centres (CLCs) are independent community organisations that provide free legal services to the public. We focus on helping clients who face economic and social disadvantage and who are ineligible for legal aid and cannot afford a private lawyer.
CLCs can provide legal information, initial advice and in some cases ongoing assistance.
Generalist CLCs provide services on a range of legal issues to people in their local area. There are generalist CLCs across metropolitan Melbourne and rural and regional Victoria. Generalist CLCs may be able to assist with legal issues including:
- Credit and debt;
- Car accidents;
- Family law;
- Family violence and sexual assault;
- Victims of crime compensation;
- Wills and powers of attorney;
- Neighbourhood disputes;
- Fines and some criminal matters.
Family violence intervention orders
CLCs may be able to help with a family violence intervention order. Download the PDF for more information here.
- can help with particular areas or law, such as tenancy, consumer, employment, welfare, human rights, environmental issues and immigration law; or
- assist specific groups of people, such as young people, women, or people with mental illness or disabilities.
Each CLC has different eligibility guidelines as to who they can help, what legal issues they can help with and how much help they can provide. As a general rule, when assessing eligibility, a CLC will look at issues including:
- the type of legal matter;
- the availability of other assistance (private lawyer or legal aid);
- the merits of your matter (whether it has a good chance of success);
- your ability to help yourself; and
- the capacity of the centre to assist.
If the CLC cannot help you, they may be able to refer you to another organisation that can help.
You can find out more information including contact details of all Victorian CLCs here.
Victoria Legal Aid
Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) is a statutory authority funded by the Victorian and Commonwealth governments that provides free legal services across Victoria.
VLA has lawyers in offices in most major metropolitan and country regions. VLA also pays for private lawyers to provide legal services to the public.
VLA focusses on helping and protecting the rights of socially and economically disadvantaged Victorians.
VLA can provide initial legal information over the phone. It has lawyers on duty at many courts and tribunals to help people with court cases who do not have their own lawyer.
To qualify for ongoing assistance, you need to meet the eligibility criteria in VLA’s guidelines. As a general rule, to qualify for assistance you need to be on a low income, have limited assets and have the right type of legal matter. VLA provides legal assistance in the areas of criminal law, family law and some civil law matters.
You can find more information about VLA at:
T: (03) 9269 0120 Melbourne
T: 1800 677 402 Rural Victoria
Private lawyers across Victoria can provide you with legal advice and representation in relation to range of matters. Fees vary depending on the law firm and the type of work.
The Law Institute of Victoria has information on choosing a private lawyer and a legal referral service to refer you to a private lawyer that can help with your legal issue. Some lawyers offer a free 30 minute initial consultation.
Depending on the type of legal issue and the chances of success, some lawyers may offer to help you on a “no win no charge” basis. This means that you do not need to pay your lawyer’s fees unless your matter is successful. Conditions apply to these types of arrangements.
You can find out more information about the Law Institute and finding a private lawyer at:
T: (03) 9607 9550 Legal Referral Service
Pro bono and legal assistance schemes
Pro bono is work done by private lawyers for free or without expectation of a fee. Many law firms have pro bono schemes where they provide free legal services to people who cannot otherwise get legal help.
The Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) can help individuals to access pro bono assistance. PILCH coordinates a number of pro bono schemes in Victoria.
As a general rule, PILCH may be able to help you find pro bono legal assistance if:
- your matter has merit (a good chance of success);
- you are ineligible for legal aid;
- you meet a means test;
- your matter has public interest.
You can find more information about PILCH and getting pro bono help:
T: (03) 8636 4400