An online matchmaker for finding justice

3 October 2016
Justice Connect is excited to announce a big new project

As more Australians find themselves unable to access the legal help they need, Justice Connect, with the help of the Google Impact Challenge, is developing a ground-breaking new solution to connect tens of thousands of Australians with thousands of lawyers, helping to close the ‘justice gap’.

Justice Connect has been selected as one of 10 finalists in the Google Impact Challenge, for its proposal to create an online Legal Help Gateway. The service will draw on the web-based matching models pioneered by dating and real estate services like eHarmony, RSVP, realestate.com.au and domain.com.au to match people and community groups with leading lawyers who want to help for free. 

“Legal problems are life problems. When people miss out on legal help, we know that a cascade of problems often follow – financial, health, housing. These problems are not only terrible for the people who experience them, they also cost the Australian economy significantly,” said Fiona McLeay, CEO of Justice Connect.

“The justice gap is the number of people who need legal assistance but can’t access it. And the gap is growing. Funding for community legal centres and Legal Aid is being reduced as need grows, and many people who aren’t eligible for Legal Aid still can’t afford a lawyer.

“This ‘justice gap’ doesn’t only apply to individuals. Many of Australia’s 600,000 charities and not-for-profits also struggle to afford the legal help they need, spending scarce funds on legal fees, rather than providing critical services to the community.”

Justice Connect already carefully matches many people and community organisations with help from its network – Australia’s largest – of pro bono lawyers, leading to high-quality free representation. But this matching takes time – and pro bono lawyers are ready to do more.

“This new Gateway can break down the financial and time barriers that stand between people and the pro bono lawyers who are ready to help. The thousands of pro bono lawyers from Justice Connect’s network are very willing to do more to alleviate people’s legal troubles and help close the justice gap. This project will allow us to match more people with more pro bono lawyers more quickly than ever before,” said Ms McLeay.

“With over 20 years’ experience linking people with pro bono lawyers, Justice Connect understands the complexities and capacity of pro bono in Australia better than anyone else, and we are uniquely placed to build this tool.

“Universal access to justice is a fundamental right, just like universal health care. By collaborating with people and groups from Legal Aid and Community Legal Centres to law firms and even companies who are already making matches online, this Gateway has the potential to become the tool in the effort to make justice accessible for all.”

Vote to support Justice Connect’s Legal Gateway Project in the Google Impact Challenge at: impactchallenge.withgoogle.com/australia2016/charity/justice-connect

Justice Connect helps people facing disadvantage who are ineligible for legal aid and cannot afford a lawyer - and the community groups who support them - to access free legal assistance. We bring together leading lawyers with people who need their help to create a fairer and more just world.

  • Through the Google Impact Challenge in Australia, Google.org is giving $4.5 million to Australian non-profit innovators with big ideas for a better world.
  • A judging panel will select three winners to receive AU$750,000 grant funding each, and one additional winner will be selected based on public voting. The remaining six finalists will each receive AU$250,000 in funding for their project to help turn their ideas into a reality.
  • The public voting window is open from October 4 to October 25. Vote can be cast at g.co/australiachallenge. On October 26, the four winning projects will be revealed.

 


Media inquiries:            Ed Butler, Communications Manager,Justice Connect, 03 8636 4476, 0408 620 385, ed.butler@justiceconnect.org.au