The NSW legal community in consultation with the various agencies has now formalised a coordinated state-wide plan to provide free legal assistance for people impacted by the bushfires.
The partnership between Legal Aid NSW, community legal centres, the Law Society of NSW, Justice Connect and the NSW Bar Association will ensure that people impacted by the bushfires will be able to access invaluable legal assistance.
The partnership will work in the following way:
People impacted by the bushfires can access free legal help via the NSW Government's Disaster Response Legal Service.
The helpline number is 1800 801 529.
People needing assistance will be referred to Legal Aid NSW or community legal centres, which have already provided legal assistance throughout the bushfire season for people navigating insurance claims, tenancy issues, financial hardship, social security entitlements and employment issues.
Individuals or small businesses (including farms) not eligible for assistance from legal aid or a community legal centre will be referred to Justice Connect via a dedicated online referral tool.
Justice Connect will triage matters and distribute them to law practices via its Pro Bono Portal.
To this end, any law practices able to provide pro bono work for people or small businesses affected by the bushfires must now register with Justice Connect.
Those law firms who emailed the Law Society of NSW offering pro bono assistance should also register with Justice Connect for this special bushfire assistance project.
Registration and access to Justice Connect's Pro Bono Portal as part of the bushfire response is free.
We ask that individual solicitors seeking to volunteer, including those who emailed the Law Society, to keep their eye out for requests published in Monday Briefs.
The Law Society of NSW will be working with community legal centres to assist them in getting volunteer solicitors as the need arises.
Our sincere thanks to the many solicitors and law practices that have offered to provide free legal assistance in the wake of these unprecedented fires.