Volunteer Legal Assistants
Volunteer Legal Assistants build skills in communicating with the public, assisting people in crisis, and client interviewing. They also increase their knowledge of referral services and the practical application and constraints of the law.
1. Legal Information and Referral
As a Legal Assistant, you work in a team to staff the front office and respond to requests from the public, clients and RLC staff. You provide legal information and referrals to other organisations. You may occasionally provide non-legal assistance such as help filling in forms.
2. Client Intake and Interviewing
As a Legal Assistant, you discuss with each client their situation and the advice they are seeking, you create client records and appointments, and synthesise the client's story into a clear and succinct set of intake instructions to guide the solicitor who will give the legal advice.
3. Additional Duties
Legal Assistants also help with administrative and reception work including answering phones, delivering and collecting files and documents, photocopying, filing and maintaining office supplies. Legal Assistants draft letters and emails, contact clients, other solicitors, and community agencies and occasionally conduct legal research.
Social Justice Intake (University of Sydney)
USYD students can enrol in a Social Justice subject and earn course credit as a Volunteer Legal Assistant. Do not apply directly to RLC - you must apply via the university. More information: University of Sydney Social Justice Legal Clinic.
If you want a short term placement, Winter and Summer Intensives comprise 12 full days at a time that suits you. See Dates and how to apply below.
General Intake Volunteer Legal Assistants work one half-day shift per week, for a minimum of twelve months.
- Morning shifts are Monday to Friday 9am-1pm.
- Afternoon shifts are Monday to Friday 2pm-5pm.
Legal Assistants must also attend two two-hour training sessions, and two night-time advice sessions at Redfern Legal Centre, in their first six months at RLC.
RLC requires a commitment of a minimum of twelve months at RLC. However, after at least six months staffing the front office, a Legal Assistant can apply to transfer to another volunteer role at RLC to finish the twelve months. Roles that may be available from time to time include:
- Admin assistant to a solicitor: Assist one of the solicitors with their files and documents.
- Volunteer tenancy advisor: Provide tenancy advice to the public, under the supervision of an RLC Tenant Advocate.
- Completion of at least two years of an undergraduate law degree, or accepted into a graduate law degree, or relevant experience
- Demonstrated understanding of and commitment to social justice causes and volunteering in the community
- Demonstrated understanding of legal ethical issues affecting community legal centres
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including a) dealing with people who are very stressed; and b) precise communication of detailed information.
- Available as required by the specific intake.
- Experience in administration or customer service
- Ability to speak a community language.
Can VLA work count towards PLT requirements?
RLC’s policy is that VLA front desk work by itself cannot count towards PLT hours. This is because the structure of front desk volunteering is inconsistent with a number of PLT requirements, depending on the college in question, because the work may be only 4 hours per day; supervision is by multiple staff including non-lawyers; and the nature of front desk work does not fully meet the range and level of work that a PLT requires.
Dates and how to apply