Legal Aid NSW
Appointments are necessary for interviews at the Central Sydney office for criminal and civil law advices. No appointment is needed for family law advice.
Appointments are required at Regional Offices for all types of legal matters.
If you need more than legal advice, Legal Aid NSW may be able to provide a lawyer to help with your case. The lawyer may be employed by Legal Aid NSW or may be a lawyer in private practice, paid by Legal Aid to assist you. This is called being granted legal aid. To apply for a grant of legal aid, you need to fill in an application form. Forms are available from all Legal Aid offices and from duty lawyers at Local Courts (see below). In many cases (not criminal) you can also apply through a private lawyer who does legal aid work. A private lawyer will charge you for any work not covered by the legal aid grant.
Applications for legal aid are assessed on the basis of:
what you want legal assistance for;
if you are likely to win your case (called a merit test); and
what you earn and what you own (our means test).
Legal aid is not free. Most people will have to pay a contribution. The amount depends on your financial situation and the area of the law. If you are going to a Local Court on a criminal matter, you can speak to a duty lawyer.
Duty lawyers are free and are available at Local Courts every day. If this is your first time in court and you want to see a duty lawyer, it is a good idea to get there by 9am.
Free legal representation is available to children under 18 years at all Children’s Courts in NSW. The Aboriginal Legal Service also sends lawyers to some Children’s Courts.
Lawyers also visit juvenile justice centres. They give free advice and assistance to young people in custody, including help with bail applications and appeals.
Young people have a right to get legal advice before making a formal statement to the police. Young people can only be interviewed in the presence of an independent adult
Legal Aid Hotline for under 18s – 1800 10 18 10
If you are in trouble with the police call the Youth Hotline. Criminal lawyers with experience in juvenile justice can provide legal advice to young people who have committed or are suspected of committing an offence.
Hours: 9 am to midnight Monday – Friday 24 hr service weekends and public holidays.
For more information on young people and criminal law see Hot Topics 73: Young people and crime.