Legal advice is about to become a whole lot more affordable, with the launch of Barefoot Law, a new legal clinic on Tuesday July 3 at the Mullum Neighbourhood Centre.
While Mark Swivel is known to many as a comic and MC to the Russian male choir Duskyesky, he’s practised law since 1995.
Now Mark wants to offer low-cost legal advice to individuals, families, community organisations and small businesses.
Swivel says, ‘Legal advice should be a right, not a privilege. But it’s too expensive for many people and legal aid and community legal centres are very limited or far away. Barefoot Law can help fill a need.’
‘It’s a small project, but worth doing. Julie Williams, the Neighbourhood Centre manager, and I have been talking about this for a while’.
‘Our community has many problems that could use legal advice, but people often don’t get what they need – mainly because of cost.
‘It might be a contract you need drafted or a claim against your employer. Maybe you want to contest a driving charge or there’s a will you keep forgetting to do.
‘Barefoot Law will be open one day a week, like a clinic.
‘We will aim to empower you – whether that means creating a document or helping you navigate a bureaucracy. We want to help locals solve problems and make decisions. If you need a specialist, we will find you one.
‘We will also run workshops – for community groups or artists or on wills and aged care.
‘Over time, we hope to empower the community by increasing knowledge of the law and building local networks.’ The idea for Barefoot Law came from a course Swivel delivered at Byron Community College.
As for cost, Swivel says the price point reflects ‘about what you might pay a tradie: $50 per half hour; $100 per full hour. The minimum fee is $20.’
Barefoot Law will operate most Tuesdays from 9am – 4pm, except school holidays. Swivel hopes other lawyers and students can join in to expand the clinic over time.
Workshops will also run Tuesdays from 5.30pm on social enterprise, small business, artists or wills.
‘Everything is confidential,’ says Swivel. ‘Barefoot Law has the usual obligations of a law firm, an unrestricted practising certificate and Lawcover insurance.’