WEstjustice School Lawyer Program
WEstjustice is a community legal centre operating in the Western suburbs of Melbourne. As well as providing free legal advice and community education it has a strong focus on law reform activities and works in partnership with local communities to deliver innovative projects that build legal capacity and improve access to justice.
WEstjustice wanted our support to help grow their innovative School Lawyer Program. The Program started with a pilot in 2015 and aims to breaks down some of the barriers young people have in accessing legal services by embedding a lawyer in a high school.
There were two objectives for the project: to document the current model of the School Lawyer Program and develop an easy-to-use Framework to assist other communities to set up their own School Lawyer Program, and to develop a business plan to scale the School Lawyer Program.
The role we played
Working with WEstjustice, SVA Consulting’s key activities were to:
- Refine the logic model for the School Lawyer Program to clearly articulate the outcomes for stakeholders;
- Understand and document the current operating model of the School Lawyer Program;
- Distill the key success factors for the Program;
- Outline the practical steps for set-up and development of a School Lawyer Program;
- Develop an easy-to-use Framework for other communities interested in setting up their own School Lawyer Program;
- Understand the operating models used by other programs operating in schools;
- Analyse relevant community legal centres and surrounding schools;
- Develop the preferred operating model for a scaled School Lawyer Program and articulate roles and responsibilities;
- Understand the investment required to establish and operate a scaled School Lawyer Program; and
- Prepare a high-level implementation plan for a scaled Program
To deliver this project we consulted with School Lawyers, principals of participating schools, key Department of Education and Training staff, Community Legal Centre lawyers and managers and representatives from legal industry statutory and membership bodies.
The key issues which young people accessing the School Lawyer Program receive advice and assistance for relate to family violence, fines, employment and crime. A scaled School Lawyer Program will lead to an increased number of young people accessing justice, and having improved health and wellbeing and school engagement.