Legal Assistance Referral Scheme

The Legal Assistance Referral Scheme (LARS) matches eligible requests for legal assistance with a barrister or mediator who may provide advice, appear for you or assist you to settle your legal issue. Barristers participate in LARS on a voluntary basis and collectively donate thousands of hours towards assisting members of the public with their legal problems each year.

We consider all applications carefully before deciding whether or not we can provide legal assistance. Please take a few minutes to read this page carefully before completing an application form.

The Application Process

When completing your application, please provide us with as much information as possible. If your matter is already before a Court or Tribunal, please tell us where it is up to and the names of all of the parties that are involved. Matters with a court date receive priority over other applications.

Please provide all of the relevant documents in the matter and evidence of your current financial status including payslips and a copy of your most recent tax return.

If you have applied elsewhere for assistance, for example to Legal Aid NSW or to a Community Legal Centre, please provide us with the outcome of that application and a copy of any correspondence or advice that you have already received.

We are not able to assist if you are already eligible for assistance from Legal Aid. Nor are we able to assist if Legal Aid or another lawyer has already informed you that your matter has no reasonable prospects of success.

We cannot refer you for assistance if your matter relates to certain types of cases, such as personal injury, medical negligence, a neighbourhood dispute or an apprehended violence matter. There are a variety of legal services available to assist in these areas and in those circumstances we will advise you that your matter could be resolved with the help of a community justice centre or another specialist legal service.

ELIGIBILITY

If we determine your application is suitable for referral, we will look for a barrister who can provide advice on the prospects of success or legal merit of your matter. If a matter would suit mediation, we will attempt to find a mediator. Please note that it is not always possible to refer all matters.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

In most cases, the barrister reviews the documents that have been provided to them and provides applicants with a written or oral advice about the matter. This advice is provided anonymously.

If the barrister believes that your matter has little prospects of success, you will be informed of this in writing and the barrister will not have any further involvement. If the barrister is willing to provide you with further assistance, you will be provided with their contact details and you will be able to communicate with them directly.

MEDIATION

Where the parties to a dispute have agreed upon mediation or a court or tribunal has ordered the dispute to mediation, LARS may find a barrister to represent you or to act as an independent mediator who can help to resolve your dispute. If the matter is referred to a barrister as an independent mediator, that barrister will be a mediator accredited by the Bar Association under the National Standards for the Accreditation of Mediators. The barrister will be able to mediate for up to four hours at no cost to the parties. Any further assistance will be by agreement with the parties.

WHAT ABOUT BARRISTERS' FEES?

If your matter goes ahead, you and the barrister will need to sign what’s called a ‘retainer and fee disclosure agreement’. The fee agreement may include one or more of the following arrangements:

  • Fees may be charged by the barrister at their usual fee rate, but payable only if the court decides in your favour or you can recover your costs
  • Fees paid by instalments
  • Reduced fees
  • No fees

All fee arrangements are negotiated between you and the barrister, LARS is not involved in that process.

The barrister may choose to stop acting on your behalf if the proceedings are transferred out of New South Wales.

Please refer to the LARS Guidelines  should you require further information about our eligibility and assessment process. All applications are subject to the Guidelines.

The LARS Application form may be found here. Please ensure that you have all of the relevant documents ready prior to commencing your application.

If you require assistance with your application or have a general enquiry about LARS, please email legalassist@nswbar.asn.au