Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Duty lawyer services

About duty lawyer services

Duty lawyer services are provided at a number of courts and tribunals across Victoria. Duty lawyers may be in-house staff or private lawyers we fund.

To ensure members of the public who need help from a duty lawyer receive high quality services, private duty lawyers are accredited by us. This is known as a rostered private practitioner duty lawyer scheme.

What duty lawyers do

Duty lawyers help people who are attending a court or tribunal hearing and who require assistance on the day. This service is free and can cover:

  • child protection
  • youth crime
  • adult summary crime
  • intervention orders
  • family matters
  • some civil matters, such as Mental Health Tribunal hearings.

Help provided by the duty lawyer depends on the person’s circumstances, and may include information, legal advice or representation in court. For duty lawyer services for adult criminal offences, an income test applies to all accused not in custody.

How we manage the schemes

Each rostered private practitioner duty lawyer scheme has a co-ordinator who may be from one of our offices or an approved private firm in the region.

To become a duty lawyer, private practitioners must meet the criteria for accreditation. The co-ordinator must also identify a need to increase the number of duty lawyers in the region.

We expect duty lawyers to meet the standards of service outlined in the:

Private practitioner duty lawyer scheme to deal with conflicts

A pilot scheme has been introduced where private practitioners can work in summary crime, youth crime and family violence matters if the Victoria Legal Aid duty lawyer is unable to act due to a conflict of interest.

This scheme is operating in courts where we have not previously relied on private duty lawyers. It does not alter arrangements in place for existing rostered private practitioner duty lawyer schemes.

For more information see Private practitioner duty lawyer scheme to deal with conflicts.

Contact us

The director of Legal Practice is responsible for the administration of rostered private practitioner duty lawyer schemes.

Enquiries and issues on how you can join one of the schemes can be addressed to the coordinator of Private Practitioner Short Service Schemes at ppsss@vla.vic.gov.au

If your enquiry relates to an upcoming court case please contact Legal Help.