Section 29A practitioner panels

Section 29A practitioner panels

Composition of the panels and areas of legal work

The section 29A practitioner panels comprise private law firms and community legal centres selected by Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) that are willing to act for people who require a grant of legal assistance in:

  • Commonwealth and State criminal law matters (including proceedings in the Criminal Division of the Children’s Court)
  • intervention order matters
  • State family matters
  • Commonwealth family law matters (including matters requiring independent representation of children).

There are specific panels relating to each class of matter listed above. These being the indictable crime, family, independent children’s lawyer and summary crime panels.

Assessment process for applications lodged by section 29A panel members

If a member of a section 29A practitioner panel lodges an application for a grant of legal assistance on behalf of a person for any of the matters listed above, then VLA processes the application through its simplified grants assessment process.

However, if a member of a section 29A practitioner panel lodges an application for a grant of legal assistance on behalf of a person for any other type of matter, then VLA processes the application through its standard grants assessment process.

Selection of panel members

Ongoing panels

The following panels are now continuously open to applications:

  • Child Protection Panel
  • Family Law Panel
  • Summary Crime Panel and its Youth Crime Subset
  • Indictable Crime Panel and its Youth Crime Subset
  • Independent Children's Lawyer Panel.

Applications for these panels may be submitted at any time and will be assessed in accordance with our four-monthly assessment schedule.

For information on the panels process see Panels.

Advertisements by public notice

VLA advertises in Victorian daily newspapers for expressions of interest from private law firms and private lawyers to have their names included on a section 29A practitioner panel. VLA must publish the public notice at least 21 days before VLA intends to add new members’ names to the panel’s register.

The public notice must specify:

  • the qualifications and experience which VLA requires a prospective panel member to have, or the part of Victoria within which the firm’s or lawyer’s principal place of practice must be located
  • the period of time (which cannot be more than five years) during which a firm or lawyer may be a member of the panel
  • the basis on which VLA will pay for legal services performed as a panel member for an assisted person
  • the performance standards for legal services by panel members
  • the requirements for reporting to VLA and record-keeping in respect of legal services by panel members for assisted people
  • the grounds on which VLA may remove a private law firm or private lawyer from the panel.

Membership of multiple panels

If a private law firm or a private lawyer is already a member of the Section 30 Referral Panel or any other panel, then VLA may still include them as a member of a section 29A practitioner panel.

The name of a firm includes all lawyers of the firm

If the name of a private law firm is included on the panel register, then the names of all the private lawyers who are partners, directors or employees of the firm are treated as being included on the panel too.

The exception to this is inclusion on the independent children’s lawyer panel. Only individual lawyers are appointed to this class of panel.

Section 29A Panel Practitioner Manual

VLA’s Section 29A Panel Practitioner Manual sets out all the terms and conditions of:

  • inclusion as a member of the panel
  • ongoing membership of the panel
  • removal and suspension from the panel.

Training

Section 29A panel members can contact the Assignments team to register interest for simplified grants process training. In your email, please advise of the type of training that is required, for example, indictable crime training.

Terms and conditions of membership

A private law firm or private lawyer who applies to be, and is selected as, a panel member must both:

  • agree to the terms and conditions of membership
  • agree to comply with them during their panel membership.

Period of membership

Under section 29A(3)(b)(ii) of the Legal Aid Act 1978, the period of membership cannot be more than five years.

Membership of panels

Membership of one panel does not automatically entitle a law firm or lawyer to be a member of any other sub-panel, except for the Section 30 Referral Panel, which is an inclusive panel.