Chapter 2. Obtaining legal assistance
2.1 This chapter covers issues of access to legal assistance raised through the consultation process. The first section looks at barriers in existing mechanisms which confront disadvantaged groups. Services which endeavour to overcome barriers, together with some recent innovations which have either been piloted or implemented, are then reviewed. Finally, suggestions for possible solutions are canvassed.
2.2 For the purposes of this project, we have defined 'legal assistance' in a broad manner, to encompass the following general areas:
Legal information — information available in pamphlets, frequently asked questions, Internet sites, videos, tapes, pre-written oral information delivered via helplines, legal textbooks, legislation, case law and on-line interactive information.
Legal advice — the application of legal knowledge to the particular circumstances of a consumer’s problem, either by phone, email or face-to face, where the consumer receives advice that is targeted to their particular needs and issues.
Initial legal assistance — situations where a legal professional is engaged to advocate or negotiate a matter without having to lodge formal court documents or initiate litigation.
Legal representation — including drafting formal documents, representing parties in commercial dealings, preparation and lodgement of legal documents, court applications, representation in interlocutory proceedings, court and tribunal hearings.1