Richard, WHCL Volunteer Family Lawyer.
When most people reach a certain age, they start planning their retirement – but not West Heidelberg Community Legal Service (WHCLS) Volunteer Family Lawyer, Richard.
Richard has over forty years of legal experience as a family lawyer in private practice. His introduction to volunteering at WHCL was fortuitous.
“When I was seeing my doctor at Banyule Community Health one day in July 2018. I went upstairs to the legal service and asked, Do you need a Family Lawyer? Steph, the Principal Lawyer, rang back and asked, When can you start? Well, I was in. Terms and conditions of service were agreed – I would see 3 to 4 family law clients each Wednesday, there was free tea and coffee, friendly staff, an interesting array of law students who, I discovered, were brilliant at touch typing, and Café Alamein was downstairs when I needed a hot chocolate fix.”
Richard has now been a volunteer at WHCL for almost two years, giving legal advice every Wednesday.
“From my start at the service, there has been something quite different from being in private practice. The clients I see are unable to pay for a lawyer at a law firm and they greatly appreciate that they can get professional advice without charge, as opposed to paying hundreds of dollars an hour. Of course, private law firms are businesses that have to pay their owners and staff. Legal aid is often not available to the clients I see, so the service helps to fill that gap. There is a great deal of satisfaction in being able to assist people in this way.”
He also says that while he was in working in private practice, his wife would ask whether he had a good day at the office and the answer was not always positive. But now, when he goes home after volunteering at WHCL his answer is “Wednesday is always a good day.”