Accreditation guidelines for duty lawyers

Accreditation guidelines for duty lawyers

Lawyers who want to participate in a rostered private practitioner duty lawyer scheme need to be accredited.

How to get accreditation

To become an accredited private practitioner duty lawyer contact the local scheme co-ordinator. If the co-ordinator has identified the need to increase the number of duty lawyers, they will then check that you meet the criteria for accreditation.

If you meet the criteria

If the scheme co-ordinator is satisfied that you meet the relevant criteria, they can make a recommendation to the Director, Legal Practice at Victoria Legal Aid.

If satisfied with the recommendation, the Director will grant you accreditation to be a private practitioner duty lawyer.

Accreditation criteria

These criteria vary depending on the area of law and jurisdiction you want to be accredited for, and can include relevant training and advocacy experience.

You must meet a mandatory requirement of gaining a minimum of two Continuing Professional Development points in the relevant area of law in the past twelve months. See the Law Institute of Victoria's website for information about CPD Rules and Requirements. Depending on the type of law you are seeking accreditation for, you must meet the criteria listed below.

Criminal law matters

To gain accreditation as a duty lawyer in criminal law matters, the scheme co-ordinator must be satisfied that you:

  • have accrued an appropriate number of attendances at court observing and appearing under the supervision of an experienced duty lawyer (normally at least six attendances will be required provided that the scheme co-ordinator is satisfied that in the course of those attendances, you have observed and appeared under supervision in a sufficient number of criminal law cases to enable you to competently perform the functions of a duty lawyer without supervision); or
  • have appeared during the preceding two years in a minimum of 50 criminal law cases in the Magistrates' Court in which the police were the other party. You must also attend a short orientation session, conducted by the scheme co-ordinator, for the purpose of familiarisation with the duty lawyer role including procedures, guidelines and reporting requirements; or
  • have otherwise gained substantial relevant experience as an advocate. You must also attend a short orientation session, conducted by the scheme co-ordinator, for the purpose of familiarisation with the duty lawyer role including procedures, guidelines and reporting requirements.

Intervention order matters

To gain accreditation as a duty lawyer in intervention order matters, the scheme co-ordinator must be satisfied that you:

  • have accrued an appropriate number of attendances at the Magistrates’ Court observing and appearing under the supervision of an experienced duty lawyer (normally at least six attendances will be required provided that the scheme co-ordinator is satisfied that in the course of those attendances, you have observed and appeared under supervision in a sufficient number of intervention order related cases to enable you to competently perform the functions of a duty lawyer without supervision); or
  • have appeared during the preceding two years in a minimum of 50 intervention order matters in the Magistrates’ Court for both the Applicant and Respondent. You must also attend a short orientation session, conducted by the scheme co-ordinator, for the purpose of familiarisation with the duty lawyer role including procedures, guidelines and reporting requirements; or
  • have otherwise gained substantial relevant experience as an advocate. You must also attend a short orientation session, conducted by the scheme co-ordinator, for the purpose of familiarisation with the duty lawyer role including procedures, guidelines and reporting requirements.

Additional requirements – Criminal Division of the Children’s Court

To gain accreditation to also appear in the Children's Court in the course of your duty lawyer work, the scheme co-ordinator must also be satisfied that you meet the following additional requirements:

  • if you are seeking accreditation by attendances and appearances as above, at least 50 per cent of your relevant court attendances or appearances are to have been in the Children's Court
  • if you are seeking accreditation by substantial relevant experience, this must have included substantial experience in the Children's Court.

Duration of accreditation

You are accredited as a duty lawyer for as long as you remain actively on the roster of a rostered private practitioner duty lawyer scheme.

Re-accreditation

If, having ceased duty lawyer work, you later wish to resume it, you will have to seek re-accreditation (by any of the methods above) unless your period of absence from duty lawyer work was less than two years, and the scheme co-ordinator is satisfied that you have, during the period of absence, maintained the necessary knowledge and skill required for the performance of duty lawyer work. You must also complete a duty lawyer orientation session to be updated with any developments in the role and associated procedures.

Temporary accreditation

In emergency situations (for example, where the rostered duty lawyer cannot attend court and no other duty lawyer is available) co-ordinators are permitted to grant temporary accreditation to a practitioner. Temporary accreditation will be effective for one court attendance or for as long as the emergency situation lasts.