Pro Bono Referral

Referral to firms and barristers for people who can't afford a lawyer, where the case justifies pro bono assistance and where a specialist service below cannot assist.

QPILCH operates the Public Interest Referral Service and manages the QLS and Bar Pro Bono Services.

Who can we help

QPILCH can assist individuals and not-for-profit community groups. We do not generally assist businesses or corporations, however, in limited circumstances, we may assist small organisations where the individuals involved in the organisations meet our eligibility criteria. We do not have a strict means test but we can only assist people who cannot afford a lawyer or obtain legal aid and we give priority to those experiencing the greatest hardship.

Can I apply?

Please contact our main office on (07) 3846 6317 to discuss your legal matter so that we can determine whether you should submit an application to QPILCH for pro bono legal assistance. If you are in Townsville, please contact our North Queensland office on (07) 4766 8714. We will use telephone interpreters when needed. If you have already spoken to us about your legal matter and we have asked you to apply, you can fill out the application form (on the right of this page) and send it to QPILCH by post, email or fax. Alternatively, you can complete the application form online here.

Criteria for pro bono referral

QPILCH can only refer an applicant for pro bono assistance if:

  • the matter has reasonable prospects of success; the matter requires legal assistance, and for example could not be resolved through negotiation or other practical options; and the matter justifies the use of pro bono assistance, meaning that the likelihood of success and risks of taking on the case are supported by the important social justice issues of the case.


Please note, QPILCH cannot help clients who:

  • are entitled to legal aid; could afford private legal help; or could obtain 'no win, no fee' (speculative) legal help.

QPILCH cannot assist in:

  • criminal law; family law; native title; complex commercial disputes; complex building disputes; traffic matters; matters that are too urgent to properly assist; or matters that do not relate to Queensland or Federal law however, we will consider assisting applicants who live in Queensland even if their matter relates to interstate law.


  • Contact QPILCH by phone to discuss your legal matter. The person taking your enquiry may arrange for a QPILCH lawyer to call you back to discuss your legal matter and whether you should submit an application for pro bono legal assistance. Our lawyers cannot give legal advice over the phone. If the Referral Services may be able to assist with your legal matter, we will ask you to submit an application. Receipt of your application will be acknowledged. Once you apply, QPILCH will then assess the matter based on the information you provide. If your matter is eligible for referral, we will email our member firms or barristers seeking assistance. Members are not obliged to accept a referral, so we cannot guarantee that help will be obtained in all matters that we try to refer. If a member offers to assist, you become a client of the firm, and the normal solicitor/client relationship in pro bono matters is established. You and the firm will sign a pro bono client agreement which will set out the scope of the pro bono work and cost obligations (if any). We send a letter to the firm that accepts the referral with the documents you have provided to us and we send to you a letter advising the name of the solicitor in the firm to contact. If your matter is not eligible for referral, or if we are unable to find someone to accept the matter, QPILCH will write to you explaining why your matter has not been referred and will suggest who else you could approach for assistance (such as another community legal centre) or any practical options available.

Free or low cost

In most cases, law firms and barristers are willing to provide assistance for free on matters within our criteria. However, some matters may involve a number of applicants or groups in matters that are expensive to run. In such cases, members may agree to assist on a low cost basis, asking applicants to fundraise in order to make a contribution to the running of the case.

Even where law firms agree to act on a pro bono basis (for free) you may have to make a contribution towards the disbursements needed to run your case, for example, the costs of obtaining medical reports, copying documents or paying filing fees. However, QPILCH has a small disbursement fund which may be able to contribute towards small costs.

It is also very important to realise that if your case involves litigation and you lose the case, the court or tribunal may order that you pay all the costs (legal fees and disbursements) of the other side (the winning party).


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