Assessment 2 – Essay
Subject Code &Title: LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice
Word Count: LENGTH: 2,500 words;
Work in excess of 10% of the word limit may not be read. The word count must be stated on the front cover of the assignment.
ASSESSMENT CRITERIA: There is no specific allocation of marks to individual criteria. The mark awarded reflects the overall quality of the essay taking into account all criteria.
LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice Assignment-Latrobe University Australia.

LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice Assignment-Latrobe University Australia.

Essay topics:
Each slide has a further slide on each topic to assist students. There are also materials that support the discussion of the definition and nature of public law.

1.Choose at least two examples of work undertaken by your host organisation. Discuss and analyse how this work fits within the various meanings and contested theories of public interest law and public interest lawyering.


2.“Individual legal assistance alone cannot address the underlying causes of various legal problems that disadvantaged people present to legal services with…continuing to undertake individual casework without a broader change focus can have negative, not just neutral, consequences, if it simply assists an unjust system to process the cases which are put before it”. Discuss

3.“State funds come with proviso not to protest”
Limited public funds need to be prioritised to assist individuals to access justice and not be used for political activism. Discuss with reference to the role of public law and public lawyering.

4.In announcing the Victorian Government’s intention to establish the Royal Commission into Family Violence in 2014, the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, declared that family violence is “the most urgent law and order emergency occurring in our state.” Discuss with reference to the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission.

ASSESSMENT CRITERIA:
The assessment criteria are located in the LMS – please read them carefully. They are the broad expectations. In interpreting these in relation to the essay topics it is expected that your arguments /content/research demonstrates
Understanding of the main debates in public interest law arena
Understanding of the variety of lawyering techniques utilised in public interest law

LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice Assignment-Latrobe University Australia.

LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice Assignment-Latrobe University Australia.

Essay topic 1
Choose at least two examples of work undertaken by your host organisation. Discuss and analyse how this work fits within the various meanings and contested theories of public interest law and public interest lawyering.( If your organisation is not suitable , or you are otherwise interested then use one type of organisation listed in the following slide as the focus of your essay instead of a single organisation)

Types of Public Interest Law organisations
 Community Legal Centres
 Legal Aid Commissions
 Public Interest Law Organisations
 Private firms
 Government Organisations
 Welfare Organisations
 Trade Unions
 Social Action Groups

Public Interest Lawyering Techniques
Strategic litigation
Education
Law and policy reform
Campaigning
Collaboration
Community development
Direct action
Casework and advice

Essay topic 2
“Individual legal assistance alone cannot address the underlying causes of various legal problems that disadvantaged people present to legal services with…continuing to undertake individual casework without a broader change focus can have negative, not just neutral,consequences, if it simply assists an unjust system to process the cases which are put before it”. Discuss
(Rich, Nicole, 2008. Reclaiming Community Legal Centres: Maximising our potential so we can help our clients realise theirs. 2008 – Victoria Law Foundation )

Essay topic 3
“State funds come with proviso not to protest”Limited public funds need to be prioritised to assist individuals to access justice and not be used for political activism. Discuss with reference to the role of public law and public lawyering.

There is a range of quotes and sources to support this essay topic below.

LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice Assignment-Latrobe University Australia.

The definition of Public Interest Law
 Contested concept
 Ambiguous
 Aspirational
 Political

Political Activism & funding
Political Activism & funding More than 60 community legal centres have been gagged from speaking out about what they consider to be unfair or ineffective laws and government policies.

The NSW government has issued new regulations for funding legal assistance services including 40 community legal centres and 22 Legal Aid offices across NSW.

The community legal centres say lobbying MPs and government agencies, running public campaigns and providing advice are all a ”vital” part of their activities. The new guidelines specifically prohibit activities described as”political advocacy or political activism”.

Public Interest Law:
Describes
 lawyers providing free legal services to disadvantaged individuals /groups
 lawyers acting to change economic /political /social systems

What is in the ‘public interest’ is a value judgment that “ will depend on views about the extent of the polity’s responsibility for an individual and will be grounded in philosophical and cultural understandings about law and society”

Because there are no value neutral boundaries, what ultimately qualifies as public interest law turns on how one identifies the relevant criteria and values them in relations to one’s conception of a just society.Chen

Definitions:
Lawyers who are engaged in pro bono work for individuals can be said to be engaged in public interest lawyering, regardless of the potential for the matter to have a broader impact. Indeed, such work may fit into the traditional definition of public interest. It is of broad public importance that marginalized and disadvantaged

Definitions
“public interest law does not describe a body of law or a legal field; the term was adopted to describe whom the public interest lawyers were representing, rather than what matters they would work on. Instead of representing powerful economic interests, they chose to be advocates for those living in poverty. The term has grown, however, to encompass a broader range of activities of lawyers and non-lawyers working toward civil rights, civil liberties, women’s rights, consumer rights, environmental protection, and ‘fighting for the little guy’;

Definitions:
The task of public interest law is not just to give advice and take matters to court. It is concerned with influencing the formation of rules by various designated law-making institutions. This includes lobbying Parliament and other rule-making institutions and taking ‘test cases’ to court with a view to obtaining favourable doctrine to assist public interest lawyers and others to deal with individual group entitlements. Such efforts often require campaigns in order.

Definitions:
Public Interest Law is part of the struggle by, and on behalf of, the disadvantaged to use ‘law’ to solve social and economic problems arising out of a differential and unequal distribution of opportunities and entitlements in society.

Today, people use the term “public interest” law as a gloss for a wide range of sometimes contradictory lawyering categories. Some people define “public interest” law as lawyering for the poor. Some define it as “cause”lawyering. Others think of it as lawyering specifically with a left wing or politically progressive agenda. Still others define the term as encompassing jobs in the public and non profit sectors. This last definition equates “public interest” law with law practiced in organizations in which lawyers do not take fees for their legal services from their clients.

Individual Case Work and Assistance:
“Legal aid, with its focus on individual casework, limited areas of coverage and limited eligibility, has not truly helped the poor (or altered the structure of the legal profession), making it more a palliative than an agent of social change.”

“A legal service trying to achieve power for its constituents now and into the future must, as a moral imperative, balance its commitment to the alleviation of present needs with a similar commitment to altering the political landscape of the poverty community. This demands a combination or balance of different practice types, including individualcase representation but also law reform and mobilisation lawyering.”

Access to justice v the broader interests of the disadvantaged
The generally accepted ideology underpinning support for legal aid in Australia tends to be framed in terms of “access to justice”.Legal aid is considered to be important in upholding the “rule of law”, in the sense that if all citizens are not able to access the legal system effectively the legal system cannot be said to be working equitably and its operation is diminished. While this may well be an admirable goal in itself, it is essentially a procedural justification for legal aid. This is quite different to a conception of legal aid that would see support for the underlying substantive interests of the people who receive legal aid, namely the interests of the poor and disadvantaged.

Legal Aid Commissions:
Every day, legal aid commissions make value judgements about legal need and disadvantage in making choices about the availability and intensity of different forms of publicly funded assistance. The subjective eye of the beholder can be cast on almost all decisions legal aid commissions make.
Which persons to help, with what form of assistance and at what cost; given that funds spent on one person won’t be spent on another, involves balancing the relative need of individuals on the one hand,with service design or limitations on the other to achieve the best mix of services that serves the greatest public good.

LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice Assignment-Latrobe University Australia.

LAW2PLP Public Interest Law Practice Assignment-Latrobe University Australia.

Community Legal Centres
CLCs have their origins not in notions of a professional responsibility to provide legal assistance to the poor or in ideas of charity, but in a background of activism and lawyer radicalism…

Social Change Lawyers