Legal Aid Fees
17 April 2001 at 1:04 pm
A new national fee scale for Commonwealth legal aid work is to be introduced to attract more solicitors to the work, and to help keep those already working in legal aid.
The Federal Attorney-General’s Office has released a discussion paper on the proposed new fee scale and it will consult with legal aid commissions, the Law Council of Australia, law societies, bar associations and other interested parties in coming months.
Attorney General Daryl Williams says the proposal aims to address the emerging trend of experienced private lawyers being unwilling to take on legal aid cases.
The Minister says a recent report by the Law and Justice Foundation shows that private law firms and more experienced solicitors appear to be abandoning legally aided family law work.
He says while the report does not suggest that these clients are disadvantaged by this trend, the Government considers it necessary to ensure that there is a sufficient mix of both experienced and junior lawyers in the legal aid sector.
The Attorney General says the report however did suggest that one of the reasons for the dearth of lawyers willing to do Commonwealth legal aid work- particularly family law cases- was the fees are too low.
The proposed national fee scale will also introduce a new methodology for calculating legal aid rates, to ensure that they are sufficient to attract the desired blend of both experienced and junior lawyers.
The Attorney General expects to announce the new fee scale and a timetable for its implementation by July.
The National Fee Scale Discussion paper can be found out http://law.gov.au/publications/pubs.htm.