Lawyer Secondary Consultations: improving access to justice and human rights: reaching clients otherwise excluded through professional support in a multi-disciplinary practice’

Liz Sara Curran

Abstract


Under international law there are moral obligations on Nation States to ensure, protect and adhere to certain human rights standards. The difficulty is that if people do not know they have rights, do not have the confidence to assert their human rights or do not know the pathways to gain access to legal support and advice to action their human rights, then those human rights become unrealisable.

It is now empirically established that unresolved legal problems result in poorer health and social outcomes. This article argues that the use of secondary consultations where a lawyer gives advice in a timely and approachable way to non-legal professionals (‘trusted intermediaries’) likely to have contact with the most vulnerable and disadvantaged clients, then this is an effective way of reaching clients who would otherwise not gain help or advice. The thesis for this article is that legal secondary consultations build capacity and confidence in professionals to both identify legal or human rights so they either support a client or, where appropriate, refer clients who would otherwise not get help because of a range of inhibitors. Legal secondary consultations enable people to identify their human rights and action them where otherwise they would be overlooked. The author draws on personal practical experience and initial findings from recent research in urban, outer urban and rural settings in Australia.


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