Sparke Helmore Lawyers and the Cancer Council NSW have launched a legal referral service for cancer sufferers.
The Cancer Council Legal Referral Service (CCLRS), based in Newcastle and the Hunter Region, is aimed at helping cancer patients and carers receive pro bono legal assistance when cost, illness or other barriers may affect access to such services.
The CCLRS establishes a panel of law firms and matches a referral with a firm, based upon the firm's expertise.
Sparke Helmore will be a pro bono partner and handle referrals through its pro bono assistance program.
"Being diagnosed with cancer can be extremely traumatic and most patients are primarily concerned with getting through treatment," said Shayne Connell, regional manager of Hunter North West Cancer Council NSW.
"Bills do add up and quite often patients have to work through some really important legal issues to make sure they, and their family, are properly protected during difficult times."
At the official launch yesterday (1 December), Louisa Fitz-Gerald, the Cancer Council NSW's national pro bono manager and leader of the CCLRS, said that when someone is diagnosed with cancer, they are often in "crisis mode" with a feeling of being out of control.
"This legal service provides an opportunity for financially disadvantaged patients to address pressing legal issues, reduce their stress and regain a feeling of being in control," she said.
Michael Rosenfeld, Sparke Helmore executive counsel - pro bono & community, said the firm has already accepted a referral in the Adelaide office and has held a firm-wide orientation session for lawyers.