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LIV update

Every Issue

Cite as: May 2011 85(5) LIJ, p.87


LIV Council

The LIV Council meets each month to debate and decide issues of importance to members, the overall legal profession and the community.

Topics discussed at the March meeting included legal aid funding for the private profession and ethics guidelines in relation to advertising and direct marketing.

The LIV Section chairs reported on their Section activities.

Tarwirri president Holly Charles Ireland and executive director Aislinn Martin addressed Council, as did LIV director Stuart Webb, who advised on the activities of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH) as the LIV’s representative on the PILCH board.

Ethics guidelines

Council endorsed ethics guidelines for both advertising and direct marketing (http:// bit.ly/hyXcZJ).

The advertising guidelines are intended to provide practitioners with a brief snapshot of the degrees of acceptable conduct when advertising legal services provided by a firm or practitioner to members of the public.

The direct marketing guidelines were amended to be consistent with the new Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which came into force on 1 January 2011. The amendments refer only to the new Act, instead of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and Fair Trading Act 1999. The Competition and Consumer Act essentially replaced the other Acts.

Maiden speech

New Council member Mary-Jane Ierodiaconou delivered her maiden speech. The speech will appear in the June LIJ.

Legal aid funding

Council was told that the Victorian Bar, Law Council of Australia and LIV had jointly appointed a lobbyist in the lead-up to the May 2011-12 federal Budget.

The LIV also set up a meeting with Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark to discuss the 2011-12 state Budget. The LIV and Victorian Bar have established a legal aid taskforce that will press for an improved legal aid position.

The taskforce has developed an agreed list of short and long-term goals, including the improved introduction of Victoria Legal Aid’s (VLA) ATLAS+ payment system (short-term) and developing justice impact statements and a suitable position on VLA’s proposed Public Defenders Office (long-term).

PILCH presentation

Council was addressed by fellow director Stuart Webb on the activities of the Public Interest Law Clearing House (PILCH). An extract of his presentation follows:

PILCH is a Victorian not-for-profit organisation that has a 16-year history of responding to unmet legal need in Victoria. 

PILCH is committed to furthering the public interest, improving access to justice and protecting human rights by facilitating the provision of pro bono legal services to individuals and organisations. It has recently been restructured at the board level and has undertaken a significant strategic planning/governance review to realise its capabilities and to draw more people into the corporate counsel sector.

PILCH facilitates referrals to pro bono solicitors through the referral scheme (RS), which was established in 2010 to consolidate the campaign and referral activities of the Public Interest Law Scheme (PILS), LIV Legal Assistance Scheme (LIVLAS) and Victorian Bar Pro Bono Scheme and move towards a one-stop shop for pro bono referrals.

LIVLAS makes referrals to some 80 participating LIV members. Lawyers accepting LIVLAS referrals address social inclusion, the rule of law and the public interest by providing pro bono assistance on an individual basis.

Applicants are assessed against access to justice eligibility criteria, including financial means, legal merit, the applicant’s ability to afford or obtain assistance elsewhere and the nature of their matter. The means test takes into consideration many factors, including income, assets, dependants, spouse/partner income and debt. 

In 2009–10 LIVLAS saw a steady increase in the number of applications and referrals. LIVLAS received 1137 inquiries for pro bono assistance, of which 130 were successfully referred to solicitors (compared to 1081 and 115 respectively in 2008–09).

In addition to file referrals, the scheme refers inquiries to other appropriate service providers, including free community services (such as specialist and generalist community legal centres, VLA, financial counsellors, government agencies and social welfare services), and the private profession through the LIV Legal Referral Service and no-win-no-fee firms.

Section chairs report

LIV Section chairs reported on their Section activities. Presentations were received from Peta Heffernan (Government Lawyers’ Section), Jason Walker (Family Law Section), Alan Goldstone (Property & Environmental Law Section), Nicole Feeney (Litigation Lawyers’ Section), Carina Ford (Administrative Law & Human Rights Section) and Phil Grano (Elder Law Section).

Tarwirri thank-you

Tarwirri president Holly Charles Ireland and executive director Aislinn Martin addressed Council to formally thank it for its support with specific financial assistance and for opening the doors for lobbying and networking opportunities afforded to Tarwirri – the Indigenous Law Students and Lawyers Association of Victoria.

The pair presented Council with a sculpture by Indigenous artist William Chatfield entitled Lonely Turtle. The sculpture featured in an exhibition by students of the Bendigo Regional Institute of TAFE.

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