The Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales is a publicly funded government organisation which provides legal services to socially and economically disadvantaged people across the state in areas including criminal law, family law and some areas of civil law.
It currently employs over 1,300 people, has 25 offices, 2 satellite offices and operates in 243 outreach locations.
Duty solicitor scheme
In addition to undertaking several cases on any given day – including mentions (eg adjournments) for those cases and pleas (which are sentencing matters in the Local or Children’s Court), duty solicitors are also responsible for coordinating with other private practitioners in the carriage of the cases on the day.
Duty solicitors are required to follow a wide range of rules, and are paid a daily rate for their work.
Until now, a lawyer’s vaccination status did not exclude their receipt of work either by way of the assignment of legal aid cases or being a duty solicitor.
However, the Commission recently issued its ‘COVID-19 Delta Procedure for allocating work to panel member law practices’, which stipulates that:
- “Principals are required to complete the Vaccination Register by 17 January 2022 – Law Practices who are not COVID-19 double vaccinated or do not complete the vaccination register by this date will not be allocated work after 17 January 2022.”
- Lawyers on the duty solicitor scheme who do not ensure the register is completed by 24 November 2021 are presumed to be unvaccinated and will not be considered for the 2022 roster (these rosters are allocated annually), and
- Lawyers on the back up duty solicitor scheme who do not ensure the register is completed by 24 November 2021 are presumed to be unvaccinated and will no longer be allocated work from that date.