Our client information services

Our information services dealt with 53,146 civil law enquiries (up by 16.7%), covering 55, 469 civil law matters (up by 16.9%).

Referrals

We referred 38,673 matters* to appropriate external agencies (up by 11%).

The top five referrals were:

  • generalist community legal centres
  • specialist community legal centres
  • the Law Institute of Victoria
  • private practitioners
  • Victorian courts.

We also referred clients to non-legal services, including drug and alcohol counselling, social welfare services and anger management counselling.

* We make appropriate referrals to other services (non-legal as well as legal) that may be relevant to a client’s needs. We also refer clients to external agencies when we are unable to help, for example, if we have a conflict of interest or we cannot provide assistance because of the nature of the matter.

Free legal advice

We provided 17,316 legal advice, minor assistance and advocacy services (up by 19%).

We also provided legal advice at court for people who need it most through our duty lawyer services.

Number of duty lawyer services for civil matters

Victoria Legal Aid lawyers provided 6,065 duty lawyer services for civil law matters, an increase of 37%*. In 2014–15, private practitioners did not provide any duty lawyer services for civil law matters**.

* Percentage changes are based on comparison with 2013–14

** Private practitioners have historically provided a low number of duty lawyer services for civil matters. In 2013–14 they provided services on two occasions.

Civil in-house duty lawyer services

  • 66% of duty lawyer services were provided for infringement cases, of which 66% were handled by our suburban and regional offices.
  • 18% of duty lawyer services were provided for matters before the Mental Health Tribunal of which 76% dealt with inpatient treatment orders and 15% community treatment orders.
  • 8% of duty lawyer services were provided at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal of which 73% dealt with landlord and tenancy disputes.

Number of grants of legal assistance for civil matters

Legal provider Number of grants % change*
Victoria Legal Aid lawyers 1,047 32% up
Private practitioners 198 16% down
Community legal centres 84 1% down
Total 1,329  

* Percentage change is based on comparison with 2013–14.

Number of grants by sub-program

Sub-program Number of grants % change*
Commonwealth Entitlements 153 21% up
Equality 48 36% up
Mental Health and Disability Advocacy 136 1% up
Migration 39 49% down
Social Inclusion 953 36% up
Total program 1,329 20% up

* Percentage change is based on comparison with 2013–14.

Services provided by private practitioners

  • Private practitioners received 15% of the grants of legal assistance for civil matters.
  • 80% of these cases were assigned to 20 private practitioner firms.
  • Total expenditure for civil law matters paid to private practitioners, including to barristers, was $0.8 million (up by $0.1 million).*
  • 86% of the total private practitioner expenditure was by 20 private practitioner firms.

* In previous years barristers were briefed and paid directly by solicitor firms, with funds provided for this purpose under a grant of legal assistance. This meant payment records were not collected or held by Victoria Legal Aid. In September 2013 Victoria Legal Aid commenced direct payment to barristers, once private practitioners authorised and submitted online claims that work had been performed. In November 2013 this practice became mandatory and, following the support of the Law Institute of Victoria, has been adopted by practitioners.

Legal information services*

Number of services % change**
55,469 17% up

* This data covers information services provided by phone and face-to-face, and includes services provided in our suburban and regional offices. It excludes our website, publications and targeted community legal education sessions.

** Percentage change is based on comparison with 2013–14. 

Top five matters*

Matter type Number of matters
Infringements 15,292
Tenancy 4,981
The law in general ** 4,601
Inpatient treatment orders 3,401
Other migration matters 2,614

* This includes matters for grants, advice, duty lawyer services and our phone service.

** The law in general includes issues such as commercial law, wills and trusts – we do not fund representation for these matters, but receive requests for information and advice about them.