The Law Society’s Pro Bono Scheme is an application-based program where eligible applicants are referred to volunteer solicitors who provide legal assistance for free or on a substantially reduced fee basis.
This legal assistance can include:
- Legal advice
- Assistance with drafting documents
- Representation at Mediation
- Representation in Court
- On-going legal representation
The Pro Bono Scheme also provides legal assistance on an in-house basis for eligible applicants.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for assistance under the Scheme, applicants must:
- Have applied for and been refused Legal Aid (please provide us with correspondence confirming this) or have a matter for which Legal Aid is not available
- Have a type of matter covered by the Scheme
- Satisfy the means assessment applied by the Scheme
- Have a matter that has merit and/or reasonable prospects of success
While the Scheme will make every effort to help an eligible person, there is no guarantee that you will receive assistance.
The Scheme relies on the goodwill and generosity of firms of solicitors who are prepared to give their time and skill to help eligible applicants. This system operates on a purely voluntary basis and the Scheme is unable to compel any practitioner to accept referrals.
Types of matters covered by the Scheme
Assistance with Apprehended Violence Orders
Care and protection
Family law matters related to children (e.g. live with, spend time with disputes)
Immigration assistance for refugees
Legal assistance for not-for-profit organisations and charities
Wills and estates
Types of matters not covered by the Scheme
Child support disputes
Complaints about solicitors, including disputes regarding legal costs
Complaints and civil claims against government agencies and police
Dispute regarding legal costs
Family law matters related solely to property
Motor vehicle accidents
Neighbourhood disputes including fence disputes
Personal injury claims
Professional negligence, including disputes against medical, dental and allied health practitioners
Spousal maintenance claims and related disputes
Victim's compensation claims
Workers compensation claims
*We can provide information on law firms handling class action matters.
The Law Society’s Access to Justice, Director has the sole discretion to accept matters that are outside these guidelines due to exceptional circumstances, including disability, risk of physical harm to the applicant and extreme financial hardship.
How do I apply?
Complete and submit the online Application for pro bono referral form.
While we encourage all applicants to complete an application online we accept paper applications from applicants that cannot use this option.
Please follow these instructions:
1. Print out the Application for pro bono referral form
2. Fill out the form in full and sign and date on the back page
3. Double check you have attached the relevant supporting documentation listed on Page 6 of the Application Form.
4. Send the completed and signed application form and all documentation to:
The Law Society of New South Wales
The Pro Bono Scheme
170 Phillip Street
Sydney NSW 2000
What happens next
- Receipt of your application
After you have submitted the online application form and supporting documents, you will receive a confirmation email. If you have any additional documents to provide, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Assessment of your application
Your application will be reviewed and we may contact you to request additional documents/information. The onus is on an applicant to provide the requested documentation/information. You should provide the requested documents/information to avoid delays or your file being closed.
Your application will be assessed when you provide all the requested documents/information. We’ll assess your application against the eligibility criteria for assistance under the Scheme. We’ll notify you of the application outcome by email or post.
If you have not received a response within 30 days, please contact the Access to Justice Department.
Terms and conditions
Please see the attached terms and conditions relating to the Pro Bono Scheme here.
In submitting an application for Pro Bono Assistance, you agree to accept these terms and conditions.
Please also be advised of the following
- We require a minimum of ten (10) working days to assess applications. The assessment time will depend on the volume of applications received and the complexity of your matter.
- Due to the large volume of applications received, we are unable to:
- confirm receipt of applications or documents by telephone or email;
- provide updates on the progress of your application; and
- prioritise and expedite applications, including applications with urgent Court dates.
- We do not commence work on applications until all documentation/information is received by the Scheme.
- The onus is on an applicant to provide the requested documentation/information. If you do not provide this, we will be unable to process your application and close your file.