Queensland Law Society

QLS Pro Bono Scheme

Information for Law Firms

The QLS Pro Bono Scheme, managed by the Queensland Public Interest Law Clearing House (QPILCH), was established to coordinate and target pro bono referrals in civil matters for people experiencing hardship. This exciting and valuable initiative aims to enhance the standing of the profession and give QLS members a structured system in which to demonstrate practical support for their communities.

What kind of pro bono work is being referred?

The Scheme provides a central point of contact for pro bono referrals in civil matters where legal assistance is needed and where the applicant cannot afford private legal services or obtain Legal Aid. The Scheme focuses on people experiencing hardship to maximise use of pro bono resources and covers all areas of civil law (matters involving family and criminal law are not referred).

Participation

Participating law firms do not have to pay a participant fee. Registering as a participant firm does not compel you to accept pro bono work. It will be in your discretion whether or not to take up a matter. The main benefit for law firms is that QPILCH gathers information and documentation and assesses legal merit. This allows a firm to know, in considering whether to accept a referral, that the matter has prospects of success and is deserving of assistance. Participating firms are under no obligation to accept a referral.

Benefits for a Participating Law Firm

  • Supporting the Pro Bono Scheme of your professional association, QLS.
  • Be part of an innovative pro bono program which aims to redress some of the inequities which result from unequal access to justice in civil matters.
  • The work of the Scheme focuses on people experiencing hardship.
  • There is no obligation to accept a referral – the Scheme is entirely voluntary.
  • Law firms which are currently approached by individuals for pro bono assistance will be able to refer the applicants to QPILCH for assessment, resulting in a saving of resources for the firm.
  • When a firm accepts a referral, it will know that the matter has legal merit and that there is a real need for the work to be performed.
  • Law firms will receive an organised brief once they accept a referral.
  • Law firms will have the opportunity of assisting their community through a structured and targeted system.
  • Matters can be matched with law firms appropriately located and with the expertise and capacity to assist.
  • QPILCH will formally acknowledge and record contributions of participating law firms.
  • The QLS Scheme will be managed with QPILCH’s existing public interest scheme to provide a one stop shop for people seeking pro bono assistance.
  • QPILCH can organise requests for assistance into discrete tasks so that firms can make a contribution instead of being burdened with the cost of full representation.
  • Participants can access low cost training in the areas of law the Scheme primarily supports.
  • Volunteer work is an excellent source of professional development. Your staff can gain practice interacting with the public, hone their skills and get feedback from the people they serve.
  • Instead of sizing down, law firms are able to consider the benefits of redirecting some of their workforce into pro bono.

Procedure

The Society or any law firm in Queensland may put forth a referral to QPILCH. For an application to be eligible, the applicant must satisfy the merit and means tests. If the matter satisfies the eligibility criteria, we invite participating firms by email to take up the case. If a firm accepts the matter, QPILCH prepares a brief and sends the brief to the firm. The applicant then becomes a client of the firm. A model Solicitor/Client Pro Bono Agreement for this purpose is accessible from the QPILCH website.

QPILCH has established a limited disbursement fund which is accessible by law firms for disbursement expenses by prior approval in cases where a client or a firm cannot meet disbursement costs. On completion of the matter we ask firms to send to QPILCH a short matter closure form so that we can report on the pro bono work of the profession. For more detailed information, please view the approved QLS Pro Bono Scheme guidelines and the QPILCH brochure.

Becoming a Participant

To register your interest as a participating firm, please download the registration form and post, email or fax the completed form to:

QLS Pro Bono Referral Service Solicitor
PO Box 3631
SOUTH BRISBANE BC QLD 4101

T: (07) 3846 6317
F: (07) 3846 6311
E: qlsbar@qpilch.org.au
W: www.qpilch.org.au