How can we help you?
Legal Aid ACT can help you by providing one-off legal advice for minor legal problems, ongoing legal representation for major legal problems, and non-legal support to help you while you take action to resolve your legal problem.
For information on Legal Aid ACT's non-legal support services, see Community Liaison Unit.
What sort of help do I need?
If you have a legal problem, there are two main ways we can help you:
- Legal advice, general legal information and other help with minor legal problems. These services are free of charge and generally one-off and for minor legal problems. If you need legal advice or other help please call the Legal Aid Helpline. If you want general legal information, see Information and Education to access our legal factsheets.
- Grants of assistance for a lawyer to represent you in court or for other major legal problems. If your legal problem is a major one and think you need ongoing legal advice, you will need to apply for a grant of legal assistance. See Applying for Legal Aid for information on how to apply for a grant of assistance.
If you are not sure about what sort of legal help you need, contact the Legal Aid Helpline.
What legal problems can Legal Aid ACT give advice on?
We provide advice on a range of different legal problems.
- Criminal Law
- Employment Law (for employees)
- Elder abuse
- Family Law
- Family Violence
- Immigration and refugee
- Neighbourhood disputes
- Small Business matters (debts, small business leases, winding up, understanding contracts and general regulations)
- Tenancy (for tenants)
We can give advice on legal problems outside of these areas. Please get in touch with us through the Legal Aid Helpline to find out how we can help you with your legal problem.
Please note that we do not give legal advice on writing wills. We also do not give legal advice on financial and business matters such as taxation or commercial law, buying a property, superannuation law, or intellectual property law. If you are a small business, we may be able to help you through our specialist Small Business Clinic.
If you need legal advice for a legal problem not listed above or you are unsure about whether we can help you, please call the Legal Aid Helpline. If you have a legal problem that we do not give advice on, we will try to refer you to a legal or non-legal support service that may be able to help you.
Who can get legal advice?
Anyone can get one-off legal advice regardless of income or assets.
We focus on giving legal advice to people who need it most, including people who:
- are socially and economically disadvantaged
- can't get help from a private lawyer
- don't have any other way to get legal help
If you need ongoing legal representation, see Applying for Legal Aid.
Do I have to pay for legal advice?
No. A one-off legal advice session with a Legal Aid lawyer is free. There is no charge for this service.
Where and how do I get legal advice?
Our lawyers are available to give legal advice at locations in the ACT, including:
- all Legal Aid ACT offices (see Contact Us)
- at various courts, community centres and other outreach location (see Lawyers at Court)
- at many prisons, correctional facilities, juvenile justice centres, remand centres and detention centres
- at many hospitals (psychiatric units) where patients have been detained involuntarily.
We do not provide legal advice by email or internet.
Do I have to telephone first or can I just turn up at a Legal Aid ACT office?
You can always come in to our office, but lawyers are only available to give legal advice on some days. It's best if you call and talk to us about times when a lawyer will be available to give you advice about your matter. If you call us, we will quickly direct you to the right service. Contact the Legal Aid Helpline.
Can I get an interpreter or other communication assistance?
Yes, and it's free. Legal words are sometimes hard to understand. If you would like to have an interpreter to help you, tell us when you call us. We will arrange for an interpreter by phone or in person. Auslan interpreters may be available.
What do I need to do before seeing a lawyer?
Before seeing a lawyer you should:
- work out what you want help with (remember you only have a short amount of time with the lawyer)
- collect and bring paperwork (for example your summons, court orders, letters from government agency)
- let us know if you need an interpreter so we can arrange this for you
- find out where you need to go, so you turn up on time
- make sure you have enough time – you may need to wait a bit before seeing a lawyer.
- You can bring a person for support, but the lawyer may also want to speak with you alone.
How long will I get to spend with the lawyer?
The amount of time you get to spend with a lawyer will depend on your legal matter. It could be from 10 minutes to up to 30 minutes. Longer sessions are available for people with special circumstances, such as if you need an interpreter. As the time is limited, our lawyers may not be able to read all of your paperwork or help you with a complex legal issue.
What if I need more help?
If you need more legal help, you may be able to apply for a grant of legal assistance for a lawyer to run your case. We can help you fill in the form. We may also be able to refer you to other services for help. See Applying for Legal Aid.
For other free or low-cost legal services in Canberra, see the Free Law Directory.