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Legal orgs team up to help build trust in lawyers

A campaign has been launched in Victoria to aid people seeking legal advice to better understand their lawyers’ ethical obligations and what they should ask of their lawyers. 

user iconJess Feyder 19 April 2023 Big Law
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The new campaign has been launched to aid people who are seeking legal advice, to help them better understand what they can expect from their lawyer. 

It was developed in response to the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants (Recommendation 76), “Your Right to Ask”, which encourages people to ask their lawyer questions to help them understand their rights and how they can work with their lawyer.

The first-of-its-kind Victorian campaign was developed by the Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner, in conjunction with the Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Bar, Victoria Legal Aid, and the Federation of Community Legal Centres, with support from a number of other legal organisations.


The Victorian Legal Services Board and Commissioner noted that as more and more people seek legal help, building trust between clients and lawyers is integral to the legitimacy of the justice system.

Victorian Legal Services Board chief executive and commissioner Fiona McLeay commented: “Public trust and confidence in the Victorian legal profession is critical.

“Lawyers provide vital services to the community, and a positive and trusting relationship between lawyers and their clients is good for everyone.”

She continued: “While the events that led to the Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants may have damaged some people’s confidence in lawyers, we know that most lawyers behave ethically.”

The Royal Commission into the Management of Police Informants brought in new legislation to establish clear independent oversight of police, in order to restore public confidence in the justice system.

The justice system was strengthened with disclosure laws following the inquiry. 

More recently, Victoria led the charge in the management of informants, with the new Human Source Management Bill 2023. 

“However, concepts like conflict of interest, confidentiality and legal professional privilege can be complex and difficult for people to understand,” she stated.

“A client who feels comfortable asking questions is a client better empowered to make decisions.”

For the campaign, a simple checklist has been created, and it consists of questions people can ask their lawyers to ensure they understand their lawyer’s obligations to them as a client.

The questions cover how a client can prepare for their first appointment, what to do if conflicts of interest arise, how their lawyer might bill them, and how their case might be managed.

It also covers their lawyers’ ethical obligations and what clients can do if they have a problem with their lawyer.

The campaign covers information on a lawyer’s duty to the court and justice system, what it means for lawyers to act in a client’s best interests, and details on keeping information confidential.

It covers conflicts of interest, legal professional privilege, and details of how solicitors and barristers work together. 

Information is displaced along with case studies and examples to make the content accessible and understandable. 

In order to reach the diverse range of Victorians who access legal services, the campaign will run for 10 weeks, with information available in multiple languages.

The Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria CEO Louisa Gibbs commented: “Across the state, Victorians access services from 47 community legal centres. 

“We know how important it is to develop a relationship of trust with the people we work with, including helping users of legal services to understand how information that they share in conversations and documents will be treated.”

“Your Right to Ask supports users of legal services to ask their lawyers about acting in their best interests, keeping information confidential, and declaring if there are any conflicts of interest,” stated Ms Gibbs. 

“This empowers users of legal services to make informed decisions. 

“Mistrust and misunderstanding can impact on the level of engagement people in our communities have with legal services.”

“We support Your Right to Ask and look forward to working with the Victorian Legal Service Board and Commission[er] to advance this important initiative in Victoria.”

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