Community Law Otago strives to provide legal support in a variety of ways to reach across the Otago community. A mix of media and volunteer clinics, staff travel and outreach clinics, and a 0800 number assists in maximising coverage.
Generally clinics are operated at the premises of Community Law Otago at varying times a week during the university year, using an appointment system at times to accommodate client’s other commitments and travel arrangements. We do try to make room for people to drop in at these open hours.
Over the summer holidays, clinics operate 3 or 4 times a week, depending on the number of volunteers available.
These clinics are staffed by rostered volunteers comprising any one of our volunteer lawyers and 7 of our 100 selected law students. The lawyer guides the student through the interviewing process, the legal research, formulating a client option plan, clarifying and rehearsing the advice to be given to the client.
Outreach clinics are operated by appropriately qualified staff, in cooperation with local community service providers who provide the premises, the advertising and the local knowledge.
The North Otago clinics operate once every 3 weeks, on a Tuesday morning, through the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s legal advice roster – well positioned in Community House in the main street on Oamaru.
The Central Otago clinics operate in 7 centres throughout the region.
Community Law Otago is committed to working with Maori community and Maori service providers by:
• Supporting and facilitating appropriate solutions to individual and group legal needs.
• Building and maintaining strong relationships with tangata whenua, whānau, hapū and iwi.
• Building and maintaining strong relationships with marae, whānau ora providers, kaupapa Māori social service providers and mainstream organisations.
• Researching systemic issues in our region and advocating for law reform where appropriate.
• Employing a ‘go to’ person to facilitate quickly obtained, reliable and accurate legal advice and assistance from Community Law Otago to Maori community.CLO has a responsibility for developing and delivering legal education to Māori. This responsibility includes:
• Planning, developing and delivering our legal education programme.
• Developing innovative and effective education resources.
We are also have developed a “Quick Access Service” for front line workers in local community social service organisations, to enable staff to ‘red flag’ legal issues that may need legal assistance and support before they escalate
From the CLO Annual Report:
Positive support was expressed by users and community of law centres and their work, and their understanding of the difficulties in resourcing and capabilities law centres were facing.
The continuing arrangements with the major New Zealand banks to donate to Centres some of the interest they collect from lawyers’ Trust Accounts, assisted with creating a buffer against uncertainty, and the ‘top up’ received by the government in the May 2020 Budget enabled an immediate expansion in rural services, which had languished due to funding constraints and resources.
Our core group of volunteer lawyers and students are central to the operations of Community Law Otago, providing practical legal advice to the members of the public who seek our services.
Their input is invaluable, and without them, the Law Centre’s capacity for client contact in the community would be severely diminished.
Collaboration and relationships within the Otago community is of paramount importance, and we thank those in the Law Faculty and the community – funders, advisers, pro bono contributors and community groups for their support in helping Community Law Otago continue to do the work that it does.
Thank you to the staff for their unstinting commitment to Community Law Otago’s Kaupapa, and the constant reflection of practice and systems to enhance the organisation’s reach into community to those in need of legal assistance.