For Organisations

My organisation needs help

We find legal help for Not-for-profit organisations.  Good legal help makes you stronger and lets you focus on your clients and communities.


How it works

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.

Are we eligible?

You must meet our eligibility criteria to receive services.  We will ask about your finances and your activities.

Your income

An eligible Not-for-profit must be:

  1. a Tier 4 registered charity; or
  2. a Tier 3 registered charity who is unable to afford or has difficulty in accessing legal assistance; or
  3. a new charity seeking legal support with registration who is unable to afford or has difficulty in accessing legal assistance.

Your activities

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.

Unregistered Charity

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:

  • meet the registration requirements for a charity
  • meet our income test
  • work solely or primarily in the interest of our priority groups

Substantial Public Interest

We can make an exception if the legal issue is of substantial public interest.

What we help with

We can help with every legal aspect of your organisation, including the following:

  • Staring a new charity:
  • Sticking to your charity rules
  • The people involved (including members, employees, volunteers, and governance)
  • Important agreements
  • Property, finances, insurance and risk
  • Communications and advertising
  • Disputes and conflict

Priority groups

Substantial public interest

Before applying

Do you meet the criteria?

Legal fees

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.

Terms & documents


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:

  • People with a disability
  • People experiencing economic disadvantage (including unemployed)
  • Single parents
  • People in disadvantaged housing (including homeless)
  • People who experience family violence
  • Maori and Pasifika people
  • Children and young people
  • LGBTI+ people
  • Older people
  • Prisoners and detainees
  • Recent arrivals to New Zealand
  • Rural, regional and remote (RRR) New Zealanders
  • People who have been trafficked or exploited
  • Asylum seekers.

We generally do not help:

  • Churches (their main purpose will be religious)
  • Sports clubs (their main purpose will be sports competitions)

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:

  • Contact details for you and your Not-for-profit
  • Information about your organisation’s mission and work
  • Information about the legal issue, and what help is required, and what your Not-for-profit is hoping to achieve through the legal help
  • Information about the identity of other parties involved
  • Relevant documents (for example, contracts, constitutions, PG letters, etc)
  • Information about your Not-for-profit’s revenue and expenditure

Yes. We keep all information confidential in accordance with our privacy policy.

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.

Legal fees and other costs

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.

About the pro bono portal

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:

The portal is our main way of sending work to our network of volunteer lawyers and communicating with them.  It is used to:

  • post opportunities to the opportunity board
  • manage expressions of interest
  • manage workflows around the placement and management of opportunities
  • communicate with volunteer lawyers about opportunities
  • transfer documents and information to volunteer lawyers

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.

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