Te Ara Ture connects Not-for-profits with free and low-cost legal help. Our lawyers can help with every aspects of your operation.
We prioritise organisations who help people and communities experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage. We can also help with issues of significant public interest.
Charities can apply directly for help from our application page. The Board or Manager must authorise the application, and you need to meet our eligibility criteria.
You must meet our eligibility criteria to receive services. We will ask about your finances and your activities.
An eligible Not-for-profit must be:
An eligible Not-for-profit must be working solely or primarily in the interests of a priority group.
We can make exceptions to our eligibility criteria. There are two grounds for exceptions.
We can make an exception if the only reason you do not meet our criteria is because you have not registered as a charity. To be eligible for this exception you must:
Substantial Public Interest
We can make an exception if the legal issue is of substantial public interest.
We prioritise the following people and communities because they are most at risk to legal problems.
We generally do not help:
Some legal matters are important because they relate to New Zealand's constitutional arrangements or basic social and economic rights. The legal profession has a responsibility for helping to ensure these principles are upheld.
Examples of significant public interest include:
Before your Not-for-profit can apply, you will need:
Once you've gathered all of the above, please apply here.
Our lawyers provide their services free or at heavily discounted rates. The exact rate is agreed before any legal work is done. Not-for-profits will pay between 0%-50% of the lawyer's standard rate.
Several factors go in to working out the fee, such as the complexity and urgency of the issue, and your turnover. Generally, Tier 4 organsiation will not be charged, while organsiations with turnover above $1million should expect to pay some fees.
You might have to pay your lawyer for other things as well. Internal disbursements (such as phone calls, photocopying) can be passed on to you, although these are often waived. External disbursements, such as court fees and specialist reports can be passed on to you. Exactly what will be passed on is also agreed before they are incurred.
Te Ara Ture means bridge to law – we connect eligible organisations who are in need of legal help with pro bono lawyers. In this way, we bridge the gap between those organisations and those who are willing to help.
Our NFP service is for organisations who want legal help but have difficulty affording private legal services. We give priority to organisations who work in certain sectors. We also help if the organisation has a public interest issue.
Most legal problems occur within communities that experience socioeconomic disadvantage. By strengthening organisations who work in those sectors we help to strengthen their communities. Our priority sectors are:
We generally do not help:
We can make exceptions where an organisation wants help with a particular activity. For example, if a Church food bank has a legal issue we can probably help.
No. Te Ara Ture is just a referral agency. All we do is offer your case to a network of pro bono lawyers. If someone accepts the offer, we then make an introduction to your organisation. Your organisation does not have a lawyer/client relationship with Te Ara Ture at any time.
The person making the application must be authorised by the Board, CEO or Manager. You also need to gather some information. When you are ready, you can apply through our pro bono portal: https://nz.probonoportal.org/intake/form
No. Te Ara Ture does not guarantee a lawyer will help your organisation. All our registered lawyers have day jobs. They will only offer help if they have capacity and the issue matches their expertise.
Te Ara Ture will tell you within 10 days if your organisation’s application is declined. If your organisation’s application is accepted, but no lawyer offers help within 30 days, Te Ara Ture may remove your organisation’s matter from the portal – we will tell your organisation if this happens. In either case, we will give your organisation information about other options it could consider.
Organisations can be charged between 0% and 50% of the lawyer’s standard charges. The rate will be discussed and agreed before any work occurs. Generally speaking, Tier 4 organisations would pay no fees, while organisations with turnover above $1million should expect to pay some fees.
You may have to pay office expenses if your case is unusually complex or costly. You will also have to pay any costs required by a third party. These include, but may not be limited to, court filing fees, expert witnesses, interpreters and travel expenses that the pro bono lawyer could incur on your behalf. Finally, if you ask your lawyer to do tasks that are not part of the agreed free tasks, they may charge you for these at their normal rates. You should be told about any of the charges described in this paragraph before they are incurred.
When a person loses a court case the Court will usually order them to pay the legal fees of the successful person. This is done to discourage unnecessary litigation. If your case goes to Court, and you lose, you will be solely liable for paying those costs.
If you win your Court case, your lawyer would usually have some of their fees paid for by the person who lost. This does not happen automatically with a Te Ara Ture referral because the legal work was done for free. However, it can happen if you enter into a costs agreement with your lawyer. This agreement basically says, “you only have to pay legal fees if you win, and only if you win enough to take your fair share first”. We think this is reasonable because Court cases take a lot of effort from your lawyer, and its reasonable for them to be compensated if there is a surplus. It also removes a strategic advantage the other side might otherwise have – knowing they could litigate without the risk of Court costs.
Te Ara Ture uses a secure online portal to match legal matters with volunteer lawyers. The portal is award winning software developed by Justice Connect in Australia. It is used in Australia by over 170 firms and is being rolled out in multiple jurisdictions around the world. Te Ara Ture hosts and operates a standalone version of the software. You can read more about the global project here: https://probonoportal.org
The portal is our main way of sending work to our network of volunteer lawyers and communicating with them. It is used to:
We need to put some information about your matter on the portal. We need to do this so the volunteer lawyers can determine if they have the expertise and time to help. We also post identity information (such as the organisation’s name) – but only once a lawyer has expressed an interest in helping you (and only that lawyer gets identity information). Once the case has been accepted by a lawyer, we upload all the information we have about you so they can start working on it.