In 2017, the Law and Justice Foundation of NSW celebrated its 50th anniversary. Originally known as the Law Foundation, we were founded in 1967 by the Law Society of NSW. Throughout our history, the Foundation has been at the forefront of improving access to justice. As an independent body governed by statute, the Foundation's unique position enables us to identify the legal needs of the community and act to address them.
The Foundation’s role as a catalyst of legal change has transformed the legal landscape in NSW and beyond. The Foundation played an important role in the establishment of the College of Law, the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII), the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and the Legal Information Access Centre (LIAC). In 1974, the Foundation established the High School Education Law Project (HELP), which led to the inclusion of Legal Studies in the NSW HSC curriculum. A leader in the plain language law movement in the 1980s, the Foundation was responsible the development of many resources including the Pocket Guide to Law, The Law Handbook, The Tenants’ Rights Manual, The Mental Health Rights Manual and The Immigration Kit.
In 2002, the Foundation established the Legal Information and Referral Forum (LIRF) which continues to bring together key service providers in NSW who provide referral to clients with legal problems. The Foundation is also an executive member of the NSW Legal Assistance Forum (NLAF) which seeks to promote collaboration and coordination in the development of legal services in NSW. The Foundation’s Grants Program has supported numerous innovative projects that have contributed to the evidence base on ‘what works’ to improve access to justice.
The Foundation's research is vital in informing policy and practice across the legal assistance services sector. In 2012, we published the Legal Australia-Wide (LAW) Survey, the largest national legal needs survey conducted anywhere in the world. The Foundation continues to be a leader in research on civil justice, as demonstrated by our Data insights in civil justice
reports for the Department of Justice on data from the NSW Local Court and NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunals.
To mark the Foundation's 50th anniversary, we ran an Anniversary Grants Program and held a Research Symposium in Sydney. The Law Society of NSW also hosted a Cocktail Reception for the judiciary, profession, government and community legal sector.
Anniversary Grants Program
The Anniversary Grants Program aimed to support a project that reflects the Foundation’s rigorous approach to addressing the legal needs of the community. From a very competitive field of applications, two projects were awarded funding.
Reshaping Justice: Client-centred service delivery, technology and innovation
20 June 2017, NSW Parliament House Theatrette
- Mid North Coast Community Legal Centre will trial a service that provides specialised legal advice, education and support to young people transitioning from out of home care to independence and adult legal responsibility in the Mid North Coast region.
- The Tenants’ Union of NSW will run a project aimed at minimising negative outcomes and fostering best practice in law and policy during the transfer of tenancies from public to community housing providers. The intention is that this will lead to early intervention in resolving legal issues and improved outcomes for disadvantaged members of the community.
Our 50th Anniversary Research Symposium was held on Tuesday 20 June. The event was opened by NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman SC MP and Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Dean of UCL Laws, was the keynote speaker. See Reshaping Justice program
Attorney General Mark Speakman SC MP, Research Symposium Speech
Professor Dame Hazel Genn, Access to justice in the 21st century
Session 1 – Access to justice in the Australian context*
Dr Christine Coumarelos, Clients at the centre: evidence-based access to justice and reshaping legal assistance services in Australia
Dr Hugh McDonald, Client legal capability: implications for service delivery
Catriona Mirrlees-Black, The value of data in client-centred service design
Session 2 – How research and practice can develop together
Maria Karras, Evaluation: making it realistic and worthwhile
Elissa Scott, Victoria Legal Aid, Client triage processes for summary crime duty lawyer services
Maureen Tangney, Department of Justice NSW, Using evidence for civil justice reform
Session 3 – The human face of technology
Shannon Salter, Civil Resolution Tribunal, British Columbia
Monica Ferrari and Khoi Cao-Lam, Victoria Legal Aid, Below the Belt: Learning from projects that don’t meet expectations
* Justice Ronald Sackville's paper Reshaping justice: a half-century overview appears in the UNSW Law Journal.
Thursday 30 March 2017, Law Society of NSW, 170 Phillip St, Sydney
The Law Society of NSW hosted a cocktail reception to mark the Foundation's 50th anniversary. View photos
Read or download Law Society President Pauline Wright's Speech
Read or download NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman's Speech