Referral Agency FAQs

About the service

​What can Te Ara Ture do for you?  Te Ara Ture is part of your law centre team.  We’re the person down the hall who’s only job is to find pro bono lawyers for your clients.  We connect people on low incomes to volunteer lawyers.  In this way, we bridge the gap between those in need and those who are willing to help.

What kind of cases are suitable for referral? Most of your matters will be suitable for referral.   We want:

  • meritorious matters that you do not have time to handle yourself; or

  • matters that are outside of your expertise, and where an opinion, merits assessment or help from a specialist would be beneficial

 

What kind of cases are not suitable for referral?  Some cases will not be suitable for referral. It’s important our volunteer lawyers feel their contribution is valued and makes a difference.   It won’t be a reasonable use of pro bono resource to send us the following:

  • Matters that have no legal merit;

  • Clients who have had good advice but did not like it, and now want a second opinion;

  • Vexatious or persistent litigants;

  • Matters with very low monetary value;

  • Minor matters being pursued as a matter of principle.

 

What about sensitive matters or clients with particular needs?  Some matters will not be suitable due to special circumstances, such as language barriers or sensitive legal issues.  If you are unsure, please contact us first to discuss the referral.  We might be able to find another solution for you.

 

​How do I make a referral? It’s super easy to make a referral.  You can do it all through our website: https://www.tearature.co.nz/refer-a-client

 

  • Check if we have lawyers in the relevant area of law

  • Download the application form

  • Advise the client of the main terms and conditions

  • Get the client to sign the authority and instruction

  • Submit the application form via email

 

We’ve even got a script you can use to make sure the client is told about the main issues.

 

Are there tools and resources available to assist me with making referrals? There are different tools and resources for everyone involved.  For law centres, there are FAQs and a script to help you advise the client about the main parts of the referral.  For the client, there are FAQs we recommend you give them (or send then a link).  You can also read the material the lawyers get, which gives a slightly different view of things.

 

I see there is an eligibility criteria for making a referral.  What is that all about? The service is designed to target people facing barriers to justice, including cost.  We are targeting the service at people in the bottom 50% of income and wealth because our research shows these people are unlikely to have money available to pay for a lawyer.  Most law centre clients will easily fit within this demographic.  However, to be sure, we do need you to check their financial position.  We also want to make sure our lawyers have meaningful work.  That is why our eligibility test asks you about merits.

 

Why are the client terms and conditions so detailed?  The client terms and conditions are long and very detailed to enable the client to be fully informed about our service and to understand the benefits and risks associated with the service.  They were drafted to protect you, the client, Te Ara Ture and the volunteer lawyers.  If you use the FAQs and script the main issues will have been addressed.

Why is the information sharing disclosure statement so specific?  Referring matters to volunteer lawyers, through Te Ara Ture, requires the sharing of personal information about the clients you refer to us.   This involves a variation to the normal rules for lawyers when handling confidential information.  The client care rules make it clear that informed consent is needed whenever a change to the normal rules occurs.  Informed consent means both the change to the normal rules and the risks associated with that change are explained to the client.  In this case, there is an increased risk of accidental identification of the client or harm to their legal position.  You need to be sure the client understands those risks before accepting them.  We have safeguards in place to manage this risk, but it does need to be disclosed.  More information about why we collect information, how we use it and how it is protected is contained in our privacy policy  

 

About the Pro Bono Portal

What is the pro bono portal? Te Ara Ture uses a secure online portal to match legal matters with volunteer lawyers.  The portal is award winning software developed by Justice Connect in Australia.  It is used in Australia by over 170 firms and is being rolled out in multiple jurisdictions around the world.  Te Ara Ture hosts and operates a standalone version of the software.  You can read more about the global project here: https://probonoportal.org

 

How is the portal used by Te Ara Ture?  The portal is our main way of sending pro bono work to our network of volunteer lawyers and communicating with them.  It is used to: 

 

  • post opportunities to the opportunity board 

  • manage expressions of interest 

  • manage workflows around the placement and management of opportunities 

  • communicate with volunteer lawyers about opportunities 

  • transfer documents and information to volunteer lawyers 

 

What sort of information goes on the portal? We need to put some information about the client’s matter on the portal.  We need to do this so the volunteer lawyers can determine if they have the expertise and time to help.  We also post identity information (such as the client’s name) – but only once a lawyer has expressed an interest in helping the client (and only that lawyer gets identity information).  Once the case has been accepted by a lawyer, we upload all the information we have about the client so they can start working on the client’s case.