‘Game-changer’ in legal help for community organisations

21 June 2016
Australia’s community sector just received a new boost through an exciting new collaboration between a community legal centre, digital business, and a law school.

Australia’s community sector just received a new boost through an exciting new collaboration between a community legal centre, digital business, and a law school.

Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service has launched the first national legal web application providing automated legal help to not-for-profits, charities and community groups.

The web application, which guides start-up groups through key structuring decisions, was developed in partnership with Melbourne University Law School (MLS) and Neota Logic, an intelligent software provider focused on the legal sector.

“This app is a game-changing way of helping the Australian community sector with common start-up legal questions,” said Juanita Pope, director of Not-for-profit Law.

“In the past, if community-minded people wanted information and help to start a new group, it would take many hours of a lawyer’s time to provide this advice, or the group would need to spend significant time researching on the internet, including on our online Information Hub. Now, thanks to this app, they need only answer the questions in the online form, and a custom report will emerge that can guide them in the tasks they need to complete,” Ms Pope said.

“Digital innovation is generating exciting opportunities to be able to provide more legal help to those that cannot afford it, in an efficient way, reducing the need to provide repetitive advice, and saving pro bono resources for complex cases,” Ms Pope said.

The app was developed through a subject run by MLS, where law students, supervised by subject-matter experts (in this case, Not-for-profit Law staff), use Neota Logic’s platform to create apps that deal with common legal problems.

"During the development of their web apps, students receive substantial and ongoing advice from Neota Logic’s experts both in Australia and the US, enabling students to create applications of the highest quality. This results in the creation of fast, accurate and cost-effective answers to common legal problems,” said Gary Cazalet from University of Melbourne.

Julian Uebergang, Managing Director, Asia Pacific with Neota Logic, added, “Neota Logic is proud to collaborate with MLS and Not-for-profit Law to develop applications that perform important functions for not-for-profit organisations, particularly organisations that promote access to justice.”

“With Neota providing technological guidance, and Not-for-profit Law helping with the legal questions involved, we have created a fantastic legal resource for the not-for-profit sector, of a kind which has previously only been available to corporate Australia,” said Ms Pope.

According to a report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, Not-for-profit Law’s online work in 2014/2015 enabled community groups to deliver 2763 additional client services because of time saved.

I was pleased to see an announcement by our colleagues at Justice Connect earlier this week regarding the launch of their new national app, which will provide a vital legal assistance to not-for-profits, charities and other community groups," said Susan Pascoe, Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. 

"The app instantly provides answers to common legal questions, saving not-for-profit groups significant time and money. This is yet another excellent free initiative from Justice Connect, who also recently launched the national Not-for-profit Law Information Hub," Ms Pascoe said.

“We’re thrilled with this development, and are looking forward to seeing it free up time for not-for-profits to do what they’re best at – be that protecting the local creek, running a community house, or providing shelter and assistance to women struggling with family violence,” Ms Pope said.