What We Do

FAQs - Lawyers at Court

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Can a duty lawyer help me?

Duty lawyers only help people who have a court or tribunal hearing on the day, who have not had the chance to see a lawyer beforehand. If possible, it is best to get legal advice before you go to court.

Many people want to see the duty lawyer, so the duty lawyer may not be able to help everyone. We give priority to:

Do I have to pay?

No. Seeing a duty lawyer is free.

What can a duty lawyer do?

A duty lawyer may be able to:

Duty lawyers cannot 'run your case' for you. For example, they cannot represent you in court if you intend to plead 'not guilty' in a criminal matter. If you need help with your matter get legal advice before your hearing date.

Do I have to book to see a duty lawyer?

No, you cannot book to see a duty lawyer. To see the duty lawyer it is best to turn up at the court or tribunal between 9.00 am and 9.30 am and ask court staff to tell you where the duty lawyer is. There is a duty lawyer room at the Magistrates Court. The duty lawyer has many people to see so you may have to wait.

If your matter is to start in court before you have spoken to the duty lawyer, ask the magistrate, judge or tribunal member if they can move your matter to a later time, so that you can get advice from the duty lawyer.

Can I get an interpreter or other communication assistance?

Yes. Legal words are sometimes hard to understand. If English is not your first language, you may want to have an interpreter to help you at court. Auslan interpreters may be available. In many cases the police, prosecution or court will pay for the interpreter. Let us know if you need an interpreter before the day of your hearing and we will help to arrange this.

How should I prepare for court?

Before coming to court you should:

What if I need more help?

The duty lawyer can only give you limited help on the day. If your matter is more complicated, the duty lawyer may be able to help you get an adjournment (put off your hearing to a later date) so that you have a chance to get legal advice.

If you need more legal help, you may be able to apply for a grant of legal assistance for a lawyer to run your case. The duty lawyer may talk to you about this. We may also be able to refer you to other services for help.