The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department published a National Legal Assistance Data Standards Manual. This can be found here and downloaded here. The data standards has the aim of introducing common client and service data recording across all four legal assistance services. It was developed in consultation over some years, with representatives of each of the respective legal assistance services.
The Manual contains, among other things, a new system of classification of ‘Services’ and new definitions of each Service type. Under the National Partnership Agreement on Legal Assistance Services (NPA), governments must report to the Commonwealth on benchmarks and KPIs that refer to Services as defined in the Manual.
CLASS and the Data Standards Manual
CLASS is based on the Data Standards Manual, and uses its terms and definitions for recording client and service data. This will support and facilitate CLCs and FVPLS in their reporting to government, and state or territory program managers in accessing reports for provision to the Commonwealth in accordance with their obligations under the NPA.
A big change in the Manual is the introduction of new 'service types'. In CLSIS, there were Information, Advice and Casework. Services are broken down into 10 types.
This table shows where your CLSIS Activities have been migrated to in CLASS:
|CLSIS||Moved to here in CLASS|
|Advice - where 'Activity Nature' was Legal||Legal Advice|
|Advice - where 'Activity Nature' was Non Legal||Discrete Non-Legal Support|
|Casework - where 'Duty Lawyer' was selected in Case Hours||Duty Lawyer|
|Casework - where 'Court/Tribunal' checkbox is ticked||Court/Tribunal Representation|
|Casework - where 'Primary/Alternative Dispute Resolution' checkbox is ticked||Dispute Resolution Representation|
|Casework - all other minor, medium and major cases||Other Representation|
Not in CLSIS
|Not in CLSIS||Ongoing Non-Legal Support|
|Not in CLSIS||Facilitated Resolution Process|
Under each Service, the DSM also recommends rules for how these services should be counted. Importantly, this not just how CLASS and Reporting counts services, but how the Centre records work in CLASS. It is highly recommended that the Centre familiarises workers with these rules and identifies how the practice may need to adapt to the new standards.
What does this mean for your work practices?
Under the new data standards, you have more options for Service types. Consequently, your centre may start categorising services to clients differently. For example, some matters you previously recorded as 'Minor Casework' may now be more accurately recorded as 'Legal Task'. It is highly recommended that the Centre read the DSM and incorporate it into the practice in a consistent way.
The following video explains the changes in more detail:
Services for Individuals
The DSM breaks down Services into two main categories:
Services for Individuals
- Services for Individuals cover a broad range of services, but each service in this category is aimed to fulfil the legal requirements of specific individuals as demanded, as opposed to preventative community action. These are the majority of services provided by Community Legal Centres.
Services for the Community
- Services for the Community are not actions taken to the benefit of specific individuals, but are designed to have a wider community impact and be preventative in nature. These services tend to focus on Community Legal Education (CLE).
The services addressed on this page are exclusively Services for Individuals. For more information on Services for the Community please see the chapter Community Manual.
Understanding Services for Individuals
The Manual divides up Services for the Individual in two main categories:
- Discrete Assistance is the provision of unbundled, discrete, legal and non-legal services to Service Users. It includes Information, Referrals, Legal Advice, Legal Task and Non-Legal Support.
- Representation Services are where a Service Provider takes carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity.
An Information Service is the provision of information to a Service User in response to an enquiry about:
the law, legal systems and processes,
legal and other support services to assist in the resolution of legal and related problems.
The information provided is of general application.
An Information Service involves a direct communication and/or a provision of material by a Service Provider to a Service User. Information Services do not include administrative tasks such as booking appointments for legal advice sessions.
Some centres may choose to record notes and/or personal details against information services for their own records. This is a setting that can be turned on in CLASS for relevant centres.
A Referral is when a Service Provider determines that a Service User can be assisted by another individual or organisation and provides the User with the contact details to that service.
A Referral may be recorded as either a Simple Referral or a Facilitated (or warm) Referral.
A Legal Advice Service is the provision of fact-specific legal advice to a Service User in response to a request for assistance to resolve specific legal problems.
A Non-Legal Support Service is provided by an appropriately qualified or experienced person (either through an internal or external appointment) to a Service User in response to a request for assistance to resolve specific, non-legal problems. Examples include general counselling, financial counselling, trauma-informed counselling, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community liaison, and mental health assessments and support.
Non-Legal Support Services can either be a discrete or an ongoing service, and should be recorded as either discrete or ongoing as applicable.
A Legal Task is where a Service Provider completes a discrete piece of legal work to assist a Service User to resolve a problem or a particular stage of a problem. Examples of a Legal Task include:
preparation or assistance with the drafting of documents (such as a will)
writing a letter to another party asking them to do something or stop doing something, or
advocating on behalf of a Service User without taking ongoing carriage of the matter.
If a Service Provider takes carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity, including representing a Service User in court or tribunal proceedings, this is no longer a Legal Task but a Representation Service.
Facilitated Resolution Process
Facilitated Resolution Processes include specific processes that are aimed at resolving disputes without going to court. This category is relevant for the process only. The actual representation of a Service User within a Facilitated Resolution Process is defined as a Dispute Resolution Service.
A Facilitated Resolution Process is where a Service Provider conducts an activity (for example a conference) to assist the parties to resolve or narrow issues in dispute. Generally, a facilitated resolution process will involve a screening process and the provision of an independent, suitably qualified professional to facilitate resolution of the issues in dispute.
A Facilitated Resolution Process may be provided:
in person at any location
by telephone or videoconference.
There are a number of Activity Types within this Service Category, including:
Duty Lawyer Services
Duty Lawyer Services are legal services provided by a duty lawyer to a Service User at a court or tribunal.
There are a number of duty lawyer activity types defined in Table 13 in Part 3 of the manual.
Representation Services are where a Service Provider takes carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity.
This service is the legal representation of a Service User in a Facilitated Resolution Process, or an alternative dispute resolution process. This service type does not include court/tribunal based alternative dispute resolution, which is incorporated in the definition of Court/Tribunal Services.
A Dispute Resolution Service includes preparation for, and representation at, a Facilitated Resolution Process. It also includes the work involved in recording agreement following a Facilitated Resolution Process.
Assistance provided to self-representing parties preparing to attend Facilitated Resolution Processes should be categorised as Legal Task or Duty Lawyer Service as relevant.
A Court/Tribunal Service relates to any ongoing representation for any matter before a court, tribunal or inquiry, where a Service Provider provides legal representation to a Service User, and takes carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity. This includes court/tribunal based alternative dispute resolution.
A Court/Tribunal Service does not include services provided by a duty lawyer or assistance to self-representing parties where a Service Provider does not take carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity. This type of service is counted as a Legal Task, Legal Advice or Duty Lawyer Service, as appropriate.
Other Representation Services relates to any matter where the Service Provider:
takes carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity, but due to the nature of the matter it does not proceed to a court, tribunal or inquiry, or
is not required to appear before a court, tribunal or inquiry.
Other Representation Services do not include assistance to self-representing parties where a Service Provider does not take carriage of a matter in an ongoing, representative capacity. This type of service is counted as a Legal Task, Legal Advice or Duty Lawyer Service, as appropriate.
Services for the Community
Community Legal Education
Community Legal Education is provided to the general community, community services, community groups, organisations or schools. These services inform and are usually preventative of initial or further legal problems. The aim is to enhance awareness and understanding of the law, in conjunction with educating on how to identify, prevent and deal with problems. It is also to raise awareness of the help available from legal and support services.
The creation of a Community Legal Education Resource involves the development or substantial amendment of publications and resources designed to provide information about the law and legal system, legal and support services, and guidance for identifying, preventing or dealing with particular legal problems. A substantial amendment is one where more than 40% of the content has changed from the original version.
Activities are delivered to raise awareness and educated other service providers, community groups, organisations, schools, or the general community about the law and how to recognise, prevent and deal with legal problems.
Community Education aims to resolve non-legal associated issues, social welfare, learning outcomes and personal development of people involved in the legal process and experiencing disadvantage. The focus is on addressing related non-legal problems that directly impact upon a person's ability to access or participate in the justice system, to prevent legal matters escalating. These programmes and sessions are often facilitated by non-lawyers such as client support officers.
Law and Legal Services Reform
Law and Legal Service Reform include activities undertaken to change the law and legal process, or to improve the provision of legal assistance services. These activities often seek to improve equitable access to, and the effectiveness of, the justice system for the benefit of particular disadvantages groups within the community and the Australian community as a whole.
Stakeholder engagement involves liaising between various forums, bodies, and legal and non-legal service providers to improve the coordination, delivery and collaborative efforts of all parties.
For further information on the Services for Communities in CLASS read the Community Manual here:
This includes information on:
- Community Legal Education (CLE) Resources
- Community Legal Education (CLE) Activities
- Community Education
- Law and Legal Services Reform
- Stakeholder Engagement