How to find legal help for our organisation
PilchConnect may be able to provide legal advice for eligbile not-for-profit community organisations.
If PilchConnect cannot assist your organisation, this page provides an overview of who else may be able to help. These include:
If your organisation's question is about compliance with the rules then the relevant regulator may be able to assist.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is the regulator of Victorian incorporated associations and co-operatives. CAV also regulates fundraising in Victoria.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission is the regulator of companies limited by guarantee (as well as for-profit companies). ASIC also regulates not-for-profit organisations that have registered as Registered Australian Bodies.
ORIC is the regulator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations that are registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth).
Community sector peak bodies
There are may different peak organistion. Sector wide peak organisations in Victoria include the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) and Volunteering Victoria.
There are also peaks relevant to the type of organisation you are (eg. Association of Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres (ANHLC) or the Collective of Self Help Groups (COSHG) ) or peaks those relevant to your specific area of work (eg. Vic Sports or Community ChildCare Victoria).
The peak body relevant to the the area you work in may be able to provide you with assistance for your legal issue. If you are unsure what the peak body of the sector/s you work in are you can try an internet search or browse the Volunteering Portal (see link below).
Websites to locate skilled legal volunteers
Another way to find free legal assistance is through Australian based websites that have been established to put skilled volunteers and NFP organisations in contact with each other. NFPs are generally able to advertise their requirements free of charge on these websites. When using these websites, organisations tend to have more success finding a volunteer (such as a lawyer) when they request assistance for a specific task or short-term project. It may be possible to build an ongoing relationship with the volunteer lawyer from that project.
Some of these websites are listed below:
This links to a booklet published by VCOSS which contains a range of pro bono providers.
Go Volunteer is an initiative of Volunteering Australia and includes a comprehensive database of volunteer opportunities. GoVolunteer provides free internet advertising for NFP community organisations looking for volunteers.
Good Company connects skilled professionals with NFP organisations in need of pro bono assistance. Good Company encourages NFP organisations to register with them to locate skilled volunteers to assist them with their projects.
This is a specialised service to match skilled professional volunteers and NFP organisations.
Other community legal centres
Community Legal Centres (CLCs) are independent, NFP organisations that provide legal advice and assistance on a variety of matters to people in their local geographical area. They are located in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.
There are General CLCs and Specialist CLCs. General CLCs provide legal information and advice to the community on general law issues such as motor vehicle accidents, neighbourhood disputes, employment and family law. Specialist CLCs provide legal information and advice on specialist areas of law such as consumer law or tenancy issues.
CLCs provide limited help to NFP organisations. General CLCs provide assistance to individuals and refer NFP organisations to PILCH. However, depending on the issue, some specialist CLCs may be of assistance to NFPs.
The information below explains some different ways to find a private lawyer.
Word of mouth
Speak to friends, family or colleagues in NFP organisations. Ask if they were satisfied with their legal practitioner.
Especially take note if someone hired a lawyer who successfully solved a problem similar to your own. A personal recommendation is often the best way of choosing a lawyer
Law societies are the professional associations for solicitors in states and territories. Each operates a lawyer's referral service. You can search their websites or phone the service to obtain suggested lawyers for particular legal issues.
Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) - Legal Referral Service
The Legal Referral service provides free referrals to solicitors all over Victoria. Anyone is welcome to use the Service. All referrals made by the Service are to solicitors who have agreed to see clients for at least 30 minutes free of charge.
Normal fees will be charged after the first 30 minutes. Referrals are made according to practice area, geographic location, preferred language and other specific requirements. All solicitors involved in the Service are LIV members.
You can also obtain a personal referral by phone. However, you should note that the Service does not have solicitors answering the phone and does not provide legal advice.
Hours of operation: 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday
Call on (03) 9607 9550
E-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
Referral from a legal practitioner
If you have used a lawyer before and were happy with their service but they do not practice in the area of law you need, ask them to refer you to someone who does. Ask for two or three names. There may be someone in the lawyer's firm who can handle your case.
The internet provides information about lawyers and their firms, including contact details. Look for value added information such a profile of a lawyer or a law firm website that provides some more information about your legal issue. However, use this information cautiously. A personal recommendation from someone who has dealt with a lawyer previously is usually the most effective way to choose a lawyer.