This book provides a comprehensive account of the modern Australian legal aid system. It charts the twists and turns of policy and practice over the past 30 years with a particular focus on:
- the reaction of the legal profession to conflicts and debates about legal aid policy and services and the way in which this has both reflected and accentuated major shifts in the social and political structure of the profession itself;
- the development of community legal centres from radical fringe organisations to accepted legal practices, which provide a ‘value for money’ service and work in alliance with the big city firms;
- the constancy of government calls for fiscal restraint and the recurrent lack of clear objectives despite widely varying approaches by different administrations.
This book examines the history shaping the Australian Legal Aid system from its implementation in 1972 through until 2004. It provides an extensive historical account of the system and outlines the changes in attitude and improvements that occurred throughout this time. The book is extremely in-depth in its historical coverage and goes into great detail on issues including the unwillingness of the private legal profession to accept the implementation of Legal Aid, as well as the fact that many of the changes to Legal Aid over this time have occurred as a result of changes in political and social ideals. .....
Overall this book provides the reader with a strong historical account [that] draws upon many original sources such as newspaper articles, parliamentary debates, government directives, journal articles and interviews with those in the legal profession at the time. - (2008) 28 Qld Lawyer 193
‘Lawyers in Conflict’ is an apt title for this book as it charts and analyses the inception, development, growth, destruction and ‘resurrection’ of the legal aid system in Australia. It explores the tensions and the impact on all affected by the legal system. It chronicles constant tension, resistance and change that has not always necessarily been for the better.
The book’s outlet is not a legal one despite the obvious relevance of the topic to lawyers. The authors take account of philosophical, sociological and political perspectives, ensuring there is a well-rounded view of the legal aid system and all the active participants. This offers a particularly broad and interesting insight of the legal aid system from the 1970s until now.
... The aid system has moved from the labour social welfare approach of the 1970s to the managerialist approach of the Coalition in the 1990s and continues to date. There is no crystal ball to show us what will be in the future but the lessons of history set out in this book give us the best indication as to where legal aid and all the players might be heading in the future. - Alternative Law Journal Vol 32 (3), September 2007
[An i]nteresting and useful analysis of legal aid in Australia ...
While this book serves as a useful history of legal aid in Australia, its focus (as the title implies) is the legal profession itself. The social and political underpinnings to the legal profession are used to contextualise the profession’s response to legal services established by the state. The material deals extensively with the conservative legal profession’s early perception of salaried legal services as a threat to both its work base and free market independence.
This focus on the legal profession serves to fully illustrate how and why the current mixed model of legal aid (legal aid commissions, private practitioners and community legal centres) developed as it did. ...
The book consolidates material from a wealth of primary and secondary material into one handy and thorough reference source. The story is interwoven with interviews conducted with key figures in politics, policy formation, academia and the law. ...
This title should prove a valuable resource for law and sociology academics, policy makers and shakers and of course those with an interest in social/legal reform or legal aid in Australia. I would also recommend it for naïve young things who take access to justice for granted. The book serves as a timely reminder that our current system of legal aid was hard fought for ... - Australian Law Librarian, Vol 15 No 1, 2007
...this book is more of an historical text than a legal one and should appeal to anyone with an interest in the politics of law and social policy. It focuses particularly on the divisive professional, ideological and political debates that surrounded the development of a legal aid system between 1972 and 2004. Not only does it document many of the hard-fought battles with politicians and public agencies, but also covers the lesser known friction that the legal aid issue caused within the profession itself, between traditional and new segments.
... the research and historical examples are overwhelmingly centred on New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. Nevertheless, the topics covered are of national relevance ... - Brief (Law Society of WA), May 2007
This book is a timely reminder that access to justice is, first and last, a matter of human rights. Without accessible legal aid, the legal system founders and the rule of law loses its meaning. - Justice Chris Maxwell, President, Court of Appeal, Victoria, from the Foreword
Table of Contents
Part One - Overview: Professional conflict and welfarism
Legal needs and the origins of contemporary legal aid
The Whitlam years: Public aid and social democratic vision
Professional reactions, mobilisation and division
Fraserism, conflict and State commissions
Part Two - Overview: Professional change, neo-liberalism and the state
Growth, consolidation and crisis
From providers to purchasers and suppliers
Community legal centres: Autonomous and alternative
Conclusion: Professionalism and Australian legal aid in retrospect