Street Law clients represent some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in Western Australia, and at times clients may present in a depressed, anxious or aggressive state. It is essential that you feel confident and know the importance of keeping yourself safe while working with clients. Street Law has developed code words that the solicitor or volunteer/secondee can use at a legal clinic to alert each other when they feel uneasy or unsafe. Please ensure you are familiar with this procedure before attending a legal clinic at a particular host agency.
If at a legal clinic:
A client discusses distressing or upsetting material
- Advise the solicitor by using the code word ‘PURPLE’.
- Politely excuse yourself from the interview room.
- Ask host agency staff if you can sit in the office area.
A client is aggressive, intimidating or threatening
- Advise the solicitor by using the code word ‘RED BOOK’.
- Immediately terminate the interview.
- Use the duress alarm (if one is located in the interview room) and the personal alarms (which will be provided to you). Immediately leave the room through the closest exit and close the door behind you.
- It is important that if you need to exit quickly that the duress alarm is activated so that the host agency staff are aware of the situation.
- The host agency staff may then contact the Police.
A client talks about acts of self-harm or threats of suicide
- Immediately alert the host agency staff.
- See rule 9(3)(e) of the Legal Profession Conduct Rules 2010(WA).
If you would like to speak to someone if any of the above situations occur, remember you can contact Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the contacts details of which are pinned to each work station back at the office.
Please arrive at the host agency ten minutes before the legal clinic is due to take place and remember to wear casual clothing and appropriate footwear. After you and the solicitor arrive at the host agency, you must sign in and retrieve the key to the office where the legal clinic will be held. This office will be the same office used each week/fortnight.
Depending on the host agency, if it is your first time you may be required to undertake a building induction.
Although the process for setting up is relatively the same at each legal clinic, there are slightly different policies & procedures at each host agency that you will need to be aware of. Please see the links below to familiarise yourself with information about the host agency, their specific procedures and policies, and the layout of the offices you will be interviewing in.
Start of the legal clinic setup
Once you have entered the office, volunteers/secondees will need to set up the Behavioural Signs, the personal alarms, and the laptop. These items, plus various other items, are all located in the laptop bag, which is brought to every legal clinic. Please ensure that you place yourselves in the office so that you are within easy reach of an exit, and that all doors are not blocked or locked in case of an emergency.
Inside the laptop bag is:
- The laptop, the laptop charger, and mouse.
- Internet dongle.
- The Clinic Working File (including Green Intake Sheets, Authority to Act, Obtain and Disclose Information, Street Law Client Information Sheets, problem/matter type codes for CLASS data entry, File Notes, Safe As Houses consent forms, Passages self-assessment forms, Time To Pay forms, Request to Convert Court Fines to Community Work forms, Birth Certificate Application forms, Photo Card Application forms, the duty lawyer contact list, and a Legal Clinic Setup Quick Reference Sheet.
- Two personal alarms.
- Behavioural Signs to be displayed in the office.
‘BEHAVIOURAL SIGNS’ SETUP
The very first thing you do when setting up is stick two Behavioural Signs up on the walls in the office – one behind where you are sitting, and one to the side.
The signs indicate to everyone attending the legal clinic that –
“Abusive language, threatening or intimidating behaviour towards our staff WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. You will be asked to leave the interview and Police may be called”.
PERSONAL ALARM SETUP
There are two personal alarms located inside the front pocket of the laptop bag. The personal alarms must be kept on you during the legal clinic. To activate the alarms remove the key-chain pin. To deactivate replace the pin. Depending on the host agency, you may be given extra measures of security each time you attend, such as another personal alarm that belongs to the host agency itself.
At all legal clinics the laptop will be there for you to take File Notes on, and to also conduct conflict of interest checks and create new Green Intake Sheets for new clients. Volunteers/secondees are responsible for setting up and packing away the laptop at the legal clinics.
Step 1. Connect the power cord to the laptop, and the mouse if you choose.
Step 2. Turn on the laptop
- You will need to log in with the password. The password will depend on which laptop you are using (there are two laptops, one for each solicitor).
Step 3. Connect to the internet
- There is an internet dongle in the front pocket of the laptop bag so that you can have access to the internet at each legal clinic.
- Insert the internet dongle into the USB port.
- If the internet does not automatically connect, you can click on the Telstra icon on the desktop or in the taskbar, which will show you the connection status in a Google Chrome window.
Step 4. Connect to CISCO
CISCO allows Street Law to remotely access the SLS Server by connecting the laptop to the same VPN used at the Street Law office.
To connect –
- Click the CISCO icon on the desktop or in the taskbar. A small popup window will appear on the bottom right hand side of the screen, and will ask you to enter the password (which varies for each laptop).
- Click ‘accept’ in the next pop up window.
- You are connected to CISCO.
Step 5. Connect to the SLS Server
The SLS Server is the same server that is on the computers back at the office, and will allow you to access everything on LawData(L:).
To connect –
- Click on the SLS Server icon on the desktop or in the taskbar, and it should automatically enter you into the server.
Step 6. Log into CLASS
CLASS is the legal database system used nationally by CLCs, and allows all CLC’s to perform conflict checks on any new clients. It is best to have this open and ready to go if a new client presents at the legal clinic.
To connect –
- Click on the CLASS icon on the desktop or in the taskbar. CLASS will open in a Google Chrome window.
- You should automatically be logged in to CLASS, but if a password is required, it will depend on the laptop that you are using.
- Select ‘Conflict Check’, located on the left hand side of the CLASS window, and minimise the page, ready for if a potential new client presents.
Step 7. Open a new File Note
When a client presents at the legal clinic, you will need to write up a File Note that records what has been discussed in the interview. This also applies to new clients. It is best to have a File Note open and ready to go.
To open a new File Note –
- Go to ‘Computer’ in the ‘Start’ menu.
- LawData(L:) → Service Delivery → Clinic Resources → Clinic Working File Documents → Section 9. File Note Template
- The File Note is ready for use (do not copy the template into a blank Word Document – to save, click ‘Save As’ and name the File Note as CLIENT’S SURNAME IN CAPITALS, first name lowercase – File NoteYYYY.MM.DD). Save the document under the relevant folder in LawData(L:).
Step 8. Open a new Green Intake Sheet
A Green Intake Sheet must be created for every new client, or any pre-existing clients presenting with a new matter. The solicitor will assess whether a new sheet is required for pre-existing clients. It is best to also have a Green Intake Sheet open and ready to go.
To open a new Green Intake Sheet –
- Go to ‘Computer’ in the ‘Start’ menu.
- LawData(L:) → Service Delivery → Clinic Resources → Clinic Working File Documents → Section 1. Green Intake Sheet
- The Green Intake Sheet is ready for (do not copy the template into a blank Word Document – to save, click ‘Save As’ and name the Green Intake Sheet as CLIENT’S SURNAME IN CAPITALS, first name lowercase – Intake Form YYYY.MM.DD). Save the document under the relevant folder in LawData(L:).
Step 9. FOR NEW CLIENTS – Create a new electronic folder for the client
If a client does not have an electronic folder already (for example, if they are a new client) then a new folder will need to be created.
- Under ‘Advices’ create the new folder with the clients name in the following naming convention – SURNAME, First Name
- Save the File Note and Green Intake Sheet under the newly created file.
If a new client’s matter becomes a case, then the electronic folder will need to be moved from ‘Advices’ to ‘Cases’. The solicitor will inform you when this is to occur.
Step 10. FOR EXISTING CLIENTS – Save the documents created
If the person is an existing client, save all of the relevant documents under their file. The file may be under ‘Cases’ or ‘Advices’.
PLEASE NOTE: There is a Legal Clinic Setup Quick Reference Sheet in the Clinic Working File inside the laptop bag that will guide you through the setup and shutdown process of the laptop as well as other aspects of setting up and packing away at the legal clinic.
Work at the legal clinic
After everything is set up, you can begin to see any clients/potential clients that present. Generally there will be a sign up list at each host agency for people to list their name, and Street Law will call their name when it is their turn.
What happens when a person presents at the legal clinic?
A person who presents at the legal clinic will enter the office, and the solicitor will ascertain their eligibility for the service.
If they are already a client and are coming to the legal clinic to follow up on a matter, the procedure will vary slightly, depending on the matter itself.
If the person is new to the Street Law service, or an old client presenting with a new matter, the solicitor will ascertain whether the matter can be resolved through either –
- An information only – where general information is provided to a client (such as a response to a general enquiry) but no legal advice or task is required. The information provided is of general application.
- An advice – is the delivery of advice that is fact-specific to the client in response to their request for assistance in resolving a specific legal problem.
- A legal task – is where legal work is undertaken to assist a client resolve a problem or a particular stage of a problem. This can include the drafting of documents, writing submissions, or writing letters to other parties asking them to do something or to stop doing something.
- The creation of a case – which is decided at the discretion of the principal solicitor. This occurs when Street Law takes on carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity. This case work falls under either Court/Tribunal service (for matters that involve court, tribunals or inquiries) or Other Representation (matters that do not fall under Court/Tribunal Service but require the carriage of the matter in an ongoing representative capacity).
PLEASE NOTE: New clients (not including those receiving an information only) will need to sign an Authority to Act, Obtain and Disclose Information (‘Authority to Act’).
The volunteer/secondee’s role throughout this process/the interview will generally be –
- Conducting a conflict check of the client’s name and any other parties involved in the matter (if they are new clients or old clients presenting with a new legal problem).
- Completing the Green Intake Sheet (if it is a new client or an old client presenting with a new matter).
- Typing up a File Note. This should be done for every person seen (except for those receiving an ‘information only’), and once completed it should be saved to the client’s relevant file in LawData(L:). Be prepared to type quickly.
Your solicitor will prompt you if you are unsure.
How to do a conflict check
- This will occur at the start of the interview.
- The solicitor will verbally confirm the client’s name, or you will obtain the name from the signup sheet or any other written source.
- Open up the Google Chrome window where you have already logged into CLASS.
- Type the client’s first name and surname into the appropriate fields, and click ‘Search’.
- TIP: When keying in names it is good practice to input the first few letters of the name and trying a variety of searches to minimise likelihood on missing clients whose names could have multiple spellings.
- If a name comes up on the conflict search, inform the Street Law solicitor who will then decide whether a conflict exists.
- Conflict checks MUST ALSO be performed for any other parties involved in the matter.
How to complete the Green Intake Sheet
It is very important to record the information in the Green Intake Sheet accurately. It is highly recommended that you familiarise yourself with the fields that need to be filled out in the Green Intake Sheet, as you will be filling out the sheet yourself while the solicitor is asking the client questions.
You will likely have to move around the sheet while the client is being interviewed in order to fill out each section, as the questions will not be asked in order of the sheet. The sheet is divided into two sections – CLIENT DETAILS, and SERVICE DETAILS.
CLIENT DETAILS – are on the top half of the first page, and are the client’s personal details. You will obtain most of the client details from when the solicitor asks the client directly during the interview, but if something is missed, you can prompt the solicitor.
SERVICE DETAILS – begin midway through the first page, and relate to the services that Street Law will provide the client. Most of the service details can be completed after the interview.
As a general rule, all boxes will need to be completed in some way, whether it be immediately, after the interview, or back at the office by yourself or by Street Law’s administration staff. If a box does not apply to the client, N/A should be put in the box to indicate that it has been sighted. There can be slight variations depending on the nature of the matter.
Most boxes are self-explanatory; however if you are unsure, speak to the solicitor after the interview concludes.
- Client ID, Service ID, and Activity Nature will be filled out at a later time (by administration staff).
- Main Language Spoken, Disability Type 1 & 2 (depending on the answer to Disability Indicators), Special Circumstances, More Than Two Other Parties, Any Conflict, and Sensitive Material can all be left unticked or unselected if they do not apply to the client.
- Service Type and Problem Type (the codes that are put into CLASS) will be determined after the interview with the solicitor.
- The Review Date will be completed by the solicitor later in the day.
- The other boxes (Authority To Act, Conflict Checked, Any Conflict) can only be ticked when they have occurred (but they must occur eventually).
- If there is only one Other Party then the remaining section (Other Party 2) can be left blank.
- The Assigned To box should be filled with the initials of the solicitor you are with as well as your own.
- The Referral boxes (Simple, Facilitated, and Reason For Referral) will only be filled if relevant.
- The survey questions at the bottom of page 2 can be left blank, as well as the Advice Notes.
The Limitation Dates and Critical Dates boxes must have an N/A if not applicable – however Limitation Dates may be added at a later stage if they become apparent. Limitation Dates are only noted on the Green Intake Sheet when they are advised to the client. If the Limitation Date is not clear or needs further investigation, it should be noted on the File Note.
If Critical Dates become apparent at a later stage, they will be noted in subsequent File Notes.
When completed, the Green Intake Sheet must be sent back to the printer at the office. It must then be signed by the relevant solicitor and inserted into the clients hard copy file and scanned into their electronic file.
How to complete a File Note
The File Note is where the substance of the interview is recorded. There are many things that need to be noted about the interview that can be typed under the relevant heading. The box at the top must also be filled in.
The box at the top of the page requires you to note basic information –
- Client – Name of client (in the format SURNAME, first name).
- File Number – If known.
- Matter Type – What the matter relates to, ie: Criminal (Stealing charges).
- Solicitor – This is the initial of the solicitor you are with, and your own initials.
- And whether it is an Advice or a Case – The solicitor will inform you of which it is.
Many of these boxes can be filled in at the conclusion of the interview.
The headings in the body of the File Note are –
- Facts – For the facts of the matter.
- Instructions – Any instructions given by the client.
- Legal Issues – Their legal problem.
- Non-legal issues – Any relevant non-legal problems.
- Advice – The advice that is given by the solicitor.
- Limitation Period – If any. If not, write ‘N/A’. If there is one, IT MUST BE RECORDED IN THE GREEN INTAKE SHEET ALSO.
- Next court date – If there is one. This will need to be confirmed with an ePortal check later.
- Client documents – If they provided any, note what they were.
- Further action/information required – This is where the next steps are recorded. The next steps are the outline of the details of what the solicitor said Street Law would do for the client. For example –
- Drafting a letter to a particular agency.
- Inform client of outcome.
- Undertake further research into matter.
- Call various agencies about the matter.
It is important to also note who is in the interview room with the client, whether they be a family member, friend or support person, or an interpreter.
Please ensure that everything is recorded as accurately as possible. You may find it helpful to use dot points.
Any additional information that you cannot fill in to the Green Intake Sheet throughout the interview (or that will be inserted at a later time) can be written into the File Note.
Remember to save the documents with the correct naming convention in LawData (L:) (click ‘Save As’ and name the Green Intake Sheet or File Note as CLIENT’S SURNAME IN CAPITALS, first name lowercase – What The Form Is YYYY.MM.DD). Save the document under the relevant folder in LawData(L:).
Once completed, send the File Note back to the printer at the office.
End of the legal clinic – how to pack up
After everyone has been seen or the time allocated for the legal clinic has passed, volunteers/secondees will be required to pack up the laptop, alarms, and Behavioural Signs. They must also ensure all relevant documentation has been sent to the printer back at the office.
Step 1. Logout of CLASS
- Open the CLASS window up and click ‘Logout’.
Step 2. Disconnect from SLS server
- You can either minimise the blue bar that sits across the top of the laptop screen, or click ‘Logout’ from the ‘Start’ menu on the bottom left hand side of the screen.
Step 3. Disconnect from CSISO
- Click the CISCO icon on the desktop or in the taskbar.
- A small popup box will appear in the bottom right hand side of the screen.
- Click ‘Disconnect’.
Step 4. Shut down the computer
- Use the ‘Start’ button on the bottom-left corner of the desktop to shut down.
Step 5. Remove the internet dongle from the USB port.
Return the laptop, power cord, internet dongle, mouse, Behavioural Signs, and personal alarms to their appropriate places in the laptop bag. Also return any extra personal alarms to the relevant staff.