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Deakin Law Clinic provides vital help in hard times

More than ever, as increased living costs bite hard, the legal services provided by Deakin Law Clinic have been a vital support for people who often struggle to access legal services.

Deakin Law Clinic is a community legal service which provides free legal advice, assistance and information to people experiencing disadvantage in their access to justice.

Since opening in 2017, the clinic has built a reputation for delivering exceptional outcomes to its clients. As a registered law firm, Deakin Law Clinic has provided legal advice and assistance to more than 683 clients across 798 matters. 

Most clinic clients are referred from other community legal services, Victoria Legal Aid, the Courts or previous clients. And, in the past twelve months, the drastic increase in cost of living has led to the clinic receiving more inquiries from individuals facing financial hardship.

In the 2023 financial year, 136 students completed placements at the clinic, fulfilling the Work Integrated Learning (WIL) component of their law degrees. 

Operating both virtually and face-to-face from two office locations (Deakin Waterfront and Deakin Downtown), the clinic has provided free legal advice, assistance and advocacy across five practice areas:

Deakin Law Clinic practice areas: Civil law practice, Criminal law practice, Employment law practice

Deakin Law Clinic practice areas, continued: Family law practice and Policy advocacy law practice.

Deakin Law Clinic at a glance 2023

Deakin Law Clinic at a glance 2023: 558 new enquiries, 138 matters opened, 126 matters closed, 144 clients assisted, 2 community legal education sessions delivered, 51 consultations provided through workplace advisory service, 19 duty lawyer services offered, 136 Deakin Law students completed work integrated learning in the clinic.

Law Clinic client profile 2023

Our clients at a glance: 1 in 4 clients have CALD background, 1 in 5 clients have a disability or mental health condition, 3 in 4 family law clients are experiencing family violence, 45% of clients reported experiencing financial disadvantage (low to no income), 3 clients identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 5 clients required interpreter services.

Law clinic client locations

Most services by local government area: 20% Greater Geelong City Council; 12% Wyndham City Council; 6.5% Merri-bek City Council; 6% Melton City Council; 5% Brimbank City Council

Pro bono duty lawyer service at Geelong Magistrate’s Court

In March 2023, Deakin Law Clinic introduced a new pro bono duty lawyer service at the Geelong Magistrates’ Court.

This is a specialist family violence court where counsellors, police, court registry, community services and legal practitioners collaborate to achieve a client- centred approach. 

The new service responds to the need for additional pro bono legal services that assist applicants and respondents in intervention order (IVO) matters. This service is offered onsite, one day a week throughout the year. 

During trimester, students from the Family Law Practice attend the court each week, with a Clinical Solicitor from the Clinic’s Geelong office. 

Cases are referred to the Clinic by the court registry, to provide legal advice and, where necessary, appear on behalf of the client before the Magistrate. 

This Service has assisted 19 individuals in IVO matters and has been well received by the community, court services and our students. 

Students involved gain a hands-on experience, conducting client interviews, observing legal practitioners in court, and interacting with the police, Magistrates and court registry staff. 

This exposure enhances their professional growth, court etiquette and contributes to a continuous learning environment. 

With the Geelong Magistrate’s Court dealing with a vast number of IVO applications, Deakin Law Clinic is making a significant contribution and is helping address the wider societal issue of family violence.

Client and student perspectives

The feedback received from clients and students are a powerful demonstration of the beneficial impact Deakin Law Clinic is having on lives and careers.


‘I was very satisfied with the service Deakin Law Clinic provided. They gave me a detailed timeline and plan for what to say when I represented myself in the Magistrates’ Court. [The] interview process and advice they gave me was more detailed and helpful than the service from any other Community Legal Service or Legal Aid that I’ve sought help from before… I am very grateful for the help that I received…’


‘“I participated in the Family Law unit at Deakin Law Clinic, and it was the best part of my law degree. The Clinic provides the perfect opportunity to develop the skills learnt in classes and apply them to real life situations. It helps to bridge the gap between university and practicing as a lawyer and I enjoyed it so much that I continued to volunteer there after the semester had finished.’




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