VGSO recognises that pro bono legal work plays an important role in promoting access to justice for disadvantaged members of the community and enhancing the personal and professional development of our staff. VGSO also acknowledges the responsibility of the legal profession to provide pro bono legal services to serve the public interest. VGSO lawyers have a long history of using their professional skills to serve the public interest, both through their work for Government and in supporting other community interest.
VGSO's pro bono program was formally established in 2013, when the pro bono policy was endorsed by the then Victorian Government Solicitor and the Attorney-General. VGSO has since established two pro bono partnerships.
Inner Melbourne Community Legal
Inner Melbourne Community Legal (IMCL) is an independent community legal centre working for social purpose. On 14 February 2022, IMCL merged with their neighbouring Community Legal Centre, Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre. This merger has enabled them to secure more funding, grow their teams and expanded the advocacy and legal support services that they can provide to their local community.
IMCL promotes access to justice through the provision of free and accessible legal assistance, education, advocacy and law reform for people experiencing financial and other forms of chronic disadvantage, and also those experiencing adverse life events who are at risk of longer term, entrenched disadvantage. IMCL provides direct legal advice, casework and representation in areas such as family violence, family law, criminal law, fines, tenancy, and victims of crime to their local community; law reform and strategic advocacy in the areas of housing and homelessness, mental health, criminal justice, family violence and fines; and community legal education.
VGSO's pro bono partnership with IMCL began in 2006 and was formalised in 2016.
One VGSO solicitor is seconded each year for a period of 12 months. The secondment may be undertaken online or in person and IMCL encourages flexible working arrangements. The VGSO secondee is involved in a range of work including appearances, provision of client advice and ongoing casework. As IMCL operates Health Justice partnerships with the Royal Women's Hospital, Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter Mac, the secondee will also have a unique opportunity to be involved in outreach clinics, duty lawyering and participating in ongoing general and strategic case work.
Brimbank Community Legal and the VGSO Pro bono program
Brimbank Melton Community Legal Centre (BMCLC) is a generalist community legal centre which provides free legal services to people in the Brimbank, Melton and Bacchus Marsh areas. Priority is given to those clients who cannot afford a private lawyer and are not eligible for legal aid.
BMCLC has a strong leadership team and proven track record in providing quality legal services, and also had a demonstrable need for additional resources, with heavy client demand and no existing pro bono partnerships with other law firms. BMCLC provides advice in areas such as family violence, family law, fines and infringement, motor vehicle accidents, civil debts, tenancy and criminal law. BMCLC regularly assists clients who present with mental health issues.
VGSO's pro bono partnership with BMCLC began in 2014. Under the program, VGSO Law Graduates are rostered to volunteer at BMCLC's legal clinic at its St Albans office every Wednesday for a period of six weeks to assist with the running of its legal clinic. VGSO Law Graduates interview clients during the legal clinic in the morning and undertake follow up work in the afternoon. The secondment may be undertaken online or in person.