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START OF Policies and procedures
START OF Case management standards & practice management standards
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The Case Management Standards - Legal Advice have been developed to assist staff in Legal Aid Queensland to provide accurate, accessible, appropriate, efficient and effective legal advice. The guidelines form part of the Quality Assurance documentation and should be read in conjunction with the Practice Management Standards which provide details in relation to the professional standards expected by all legal service providers.
The aim of legal advice is to:
A legal advice service provides fact specific advice where the advice provider:
A legal advice service is a 'one off' interview concerning a particular legal problem relating to that client.
In general, legal advice for a client regarding the same matter does not exceed 60 minutes whether one or more legal advice interviews are conducted.
Legal Aid Queensland provides legal advice in relation to most personal legal issues.
Where another service provider (eg Community Legal Centre or Government Agency) exists to provide specialist advice and assistance in relation to particular legal matters, then Legal Aid Queensland refers clients to that service.
Legal Aid Queensland does not provide advice:
Legal advice services are available by:
Clients are offered telephone advice as a first option, unless the client's circumstances indicate telephone advice is not appropriate eg: due to the necessity to peruse written documents, the complexity of the issue, or the client's communication needs.
The legal advice service facilitates access by clients who experience social or economic disadvantage.
Interpreters are engaged when:
Telephone interpreters are used unless the matter is of such complexity that an on site interpreter is required. Legal Aid Queensland meets the cost of the interpreter.
Lawyers providing advice comply with the Best Practice Guidelines for Working with Clients Who Have Been Affected by Domestic Violence.
Where a client wishes to have a support person present during legal advice, the lawyer providing the advice agrees to this request unless it is inappropriate eg: conflict of interest, confidentiality.
Indigenous Community Liaison Officers may provide assistance, either on site or by telephone, if a communication facilitator is required.
In civil and family matters, lawyers should initially form a view about whether the child or young person under the age of 18 is capable of providing instructions directly. If the child/young person is capable of doing so, the lawyer should take instructions directly from the client. In criminal matters lawyers always take instructions directly from the child/young person. Lawyers should assess whether it is appropriate for parents or other adults to be present when giving advice to a child/young person, keeping in mind that it is the child/young person who is the client and that parents or adults may sometimes influence the instructions obtained from a child.
Lawyers should ensure that referrals for support are provided to the client are realistic to the living situation of the client. This should be discussed with the client as a component of client service.
Legal Aid Queensland provides a duty lawyer advice service for prisons throughout Queensland.
The lawyer providing advice:
Legal Advice is not provided to clients who are intoxicated or drug affected or who are aggressive or abusive towards staff.
For face to face interviews a lawyer who has security concerns about a client may:
If during the course of an interview the client's behaviour becomes inappropriate, the lawyer may terminate the interview and ask the client to leave.
If a client makes threats to harm another person, the lawyer providing the advice reports the threat to their supervisor.
Lawyers providing advice are familiar with the resources which Legal Aid Queensland has available to assist with the provision of legal advice including:
Lawyers providing advice demonstrate commitment to professional development. Legal Aid Queensland provides opportunities for:
Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that staff have access to formal and informal debriefing resources and opportunities when needed.
Prior to receiving legal advice, clients must provide personal details to Legal Aid Queensland.
Client service staff conduct a search of LA Office to ascertain whether the client has a client number. If there is no record of previous dealings, a new client number is to be created. The Client Service staff make brief notes about the client's legal problem to assist the lawyer who will be providing the advice.
If the client has previously obtained legal advice on the same subject matter, the interviewing lawyer, where practicable, reads the previous advice prior to the interview.
The lawyer providing advice records either on the legal advice form or in the Legal Advice module of LA Office sufficient information for another lawyer to readily understand:
Copies of letters, forms or relevant documentation sighted or prepared are kept with the advice. If the advice is electronically recorded, then the record indicates where any documents (paper or electronic) which relate to that advice are kept.
An officer should not assist any person in a manner which would lead a reasonable observer to consider that Legal Aid Queensland had a conflict of interest which may have led the officer to act prejudicially or preferably towards one or other of the parties to a dispute.
A search of data bases for potential conflict shall not be routinely undertaken before providing legal advice.
A lawyer shall not conduct a legal advice interview if the lawyer is aware that the other party to the dispute or a related party has previously received legal advice concerning the dispute from Legal Aid Queensland, unless:
If Legal Aid Queensland is not able to provide advice due to conflict then the client should be referred to a private practitioner for independent legal advice.
If, during the course of a legal advice interview, a lawyer becomes aware that the other party or a related party to the dispute has received legal advice on the same matter from a lawyer in the same team or at the same regional office of Legal Aid Queensland, the interviewing lawyer terminates the interview and advises the client to seek independent legal advice from a private practitioner.
The lawyer cannot disclose to the client the fact that the other or related party has attended Legal Aid Queensland and obtained legal advice. The lawyer may disclose to the client that a possible conflict exists.
Prior to providing any minor assistance as part of a legal advice consultation, the lawyer must check all relevant data base systems to ensure that no other party to the dispute has been assisted by any in house service.
The lawyer providing advice informs the client if the client is likely to be eligible for a grant of legal aid and provides the client with a legal aid application form. The lawyer records sufficient information to support an application for legal aid and completes a simplification checklist if applicable.
The objective of minor assistance is that with assistance from a lawyer, the client should be able to progress their legal problem without legal representation.
The standard maximum time to be spent on minor assistance is 60 minutes, excluding the legal advice time.
When deciding whether or not to provide minor assistance in a particular matter, the lawyer will have regard to the following:
It may be appropriate to draft letters for clients in relation to minor property disputes which relate to cars, chattels and debts.