Duty Lawyer Service

9 Sept 2019

Definition

Duty Lawyer Services are legal services provided by a duty lawyer or advocate to a client at a court or tribunal. 

Some common duty lawyer schemes are criminal law list days, apprehended violence order list days, and tenancy duty advocacy schemes.

There are currently eight Duty Lawyer Service Activity Types in CLASS, and some Centres have their own custom Activity Types which map back to these eight.

Feedback has suggested it may be easier to collapse the CLASS categories to align with the four main Activity Types for Duty Lawyer civil and family law matters set out in the National Data Standards Manual (Table 13). NACLC is currently reviewing this. 

Duty Lawyer Service Activity Type - CLASS Circumstances in which this Activity Type is selected Data Standards Manual Duty Lawyer Activity Type
Duty Lawyer Service – Advice Solicitor / advocate on duty provides advice only - does not provide assistance in relation to document preparation or negotiating with the  other party

Duty Lawyer - Advice only

Duty Lawyer Service – Assistance – Advice and Drafting court documents Solicitor / advocate on duty does not act for the person, but instead provides advice and/or drafts court documents for the person to use themselves in the court or tribunal Duty Lawyer - Legal Assistance
Duty Lawyer Service – Assistance – Advice and negotiating with other parties Solicitor / advocate on duty does not act for the person, but instead provides advice and negotiates with the landlord/agent on behalf of the tenant Duty Lawyer - Legal Assistance
Duty Lawyer Service – Minor Appearance – Adjournment

Solicitor / advocate on duty acts as the client's representative in front of the court or tribunal in relation to an adjournment (ie no substantive issues discussed)

Duty Lawyer - Minor Appearance
Duty Lawyer Service – Minor Appearance – Procedural Orders only Solicitor / advocate on duty acts as the client's representative in front of the court or tribunal in relation to any other procedural orders (ie no substantive issues discussed) Duty Lawyer - Minor Appearance
Duty Lawyer Service – Appearance – Advice and court-based conference Solicitor / advocate on duty acts as the Service User's representative in a court-based conference (which always includes advice) Duty Lawyer - Appearance
Duty Lawyer Service – Appearance – Interim application Solicitor / advocate on duty acts as the Service User's representative in front of the court or tribunal in relation to an interim application Duty Lawyer - Appearance
Duty Lawyer Service – Appearance – Submissions made Solicitor / advocate on duty acts as the Service User's representative in front of the court or tribunal and makes submissions on the substantive matter Duty Lawyer - Appearance

Duty Lawyer Service v non-legal court support

Some Centres operate a court support program in which non-legal workers or volunteers provide support to people attending court. Examples are:

  • Domestic violence court support programs, where women seeking domestic/family violence orders are supported to stay safe from the perpetrator, provided with referrals for housing / social work, and assisted to understand the court processes
  • Disability court support schemes in which volunteers attend to support people with an intellectual disability who are facing criminal or civil court proceedings
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander court support officers who help Aboriginal people get to court and navigate the court processes.

These court support schemes are to be recorded as Non-Legal Support Services (either discrete or ongoing) and not Duty Lawyer services.

Duty Lawyer Service v ongoing legal services

Where a person receives a Duty Lawyer Service and then contacts the Centre directly for more help, or the Centre otherwise decides that this person is someone for whom they wish to provide other advice or assistance, the additional help is counted as a separate service. The first service is counted as one Duty Lawyer Service and the subsequent service is counted as a Legal Advice, Legal Task, Dispute Resolution Service, Court/Tribunal Representation Service, or other service as relevant.

Case studies and examples

Case study: Christopher and the Duty Lawyers

Ready Reckoner: When you do more than advice

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Page version history:

9 September 2019: Minor edits to Table to fix formatting and clarify the Data Standards Manual duty lawyer activity types.
2 August 2019: Table revised with new column showing the four Activity Types in National Data Standards; new sections differentiating between Duty Lawyer and non-legal support schemes
March 2019: Draft text provided with questions for feedback.