To celebrate a year in business, low-cost legal service Barefoot Law will be opening a new clinic at the Byron Community Centre from next Monday.
Barefoot Law started its Tuesday clinic at Mullum Neighbourhood Centre in July last year and continues to provide legal advice and representation to those on a budget.
Principal Mark Swivel says, ‘We’re proud of what we’re doing – low-cost practical advice – but the truth is there’s so much more we can do. Because most people can’t access legal advice at a fair price delivered in a way that works for them.
‘Our plan was to run a clinic one day a week offering general advice at tradies’ rates: $100 an hour – because Legal Aid is hard to get, and most firms are too expensive for most people.
‘Thanks to community support and word of mouth, I now spend most of my week on Barefoot Law and so does my colleague Fiona Spencer, a Lismore-based solicitor, who started as a volunteer but works with us now.
‘We do some work free of charge, but most is at $100 an hour – which we can do because we don’t pay rent, don’t really advertise, and volunteers help us enormously.
‘Barefoot Law is a general practice that does whatever people need – local court work and family law agreement or help in the Fair Work Commission, NCAT and the Human Rights Commission.
‘Many clients are experiencing domestic violence, homelessness, or mental health issues.
‘It’s often intense work. We’ve settled personal injury and motor vehicle accident claims. Fiona got someone out on bail for Christmas.
‘I wrote a contract for a designer selling his lamps to a Danish furniture company!
‘We love our work and we’re growing, carefully and gradually.
‘Fiona has been important to helping us expand.
‘We’d also like more lawyers to get involved. Kadri, Leon, Emma, and Rebecca – all law students – volunteer to get the job done. Barefoot Law would not be possible without the support our hosts Julie Williams and her team in Mullum and Cherie Bromley and the gang in Byron.
No govt funding
‘The key to Barefoot Law is listening to and supporting our clients.
‘We are here to help people make good decisions and manage the stressful experience of legal disputes.
‘We don’t get any government funding or donations – but we’d like to change that. Let us know if you’d like to support us.
‘Once Mullum and Byron are operating smoothly we hope to open in Lismore, Tweed, and elsewhere next year. We believe every community, town, or suburb in Australia would benefit from a Barefoot Law clinic.
‘Down the track we’d like to help make that vision a reality across the country’.
Barefoot Law operate from 10am till 4pm at Byron Community Centre on Mondays and Mullum Neighbourhood Centre on Tuesdays.