About Barefoot Law – Mullumbimby Legal Clinic
Why Barefoot Law?
Legal advice should be a right, not a privilege. But it’s too expensive for many people and legal aid and community legal centers are very limited or far away.
Our community has many problems that could use legal advice but people often don’t get the help they need. Mainly because of the cost. It might be a contract you need or a claim against your employer. Maybe you want to contest a driving charge or there’s a will you keep forgetting to do. Added up, it’s a bit like having untreated illness across the community. We should fix that.
What is Barefoot Law?
Barefoot Law aims to offer practical low-cost advice to individuals and families, community organisations and small businesses. We see ourselves as plying a trade – we’re making new shelves for your kitchen, putting in a bathroom or building a studio ‘out the back’. Only this is a law firm. A very small one!
Barefoot Law is designed to help you solve a problem or make a decision. We will be open one day a week, like a clinic. We will aim to empower you – whether that means creating a document or helping you navigate a bureaucracy. If you need a specialist we will find you one. We have a good network of local and city experts to call on.
We will also run classes and workshops – for community groups or artists or wills and aged care. Over time we hope to empower the community by increasing knowledge of the law and building local networks.
How much is Barefoot Law?
Fees will be set at a reasonable level, like what you pay a tradesman: $50 per half hour; $100 per full hour. Minimum fee $20. Coming to a class or workshop will be $20 per head (hour and a half). Fees are set well below rates charged by most solicitors and are pretty close to what people pay for massages or physio.
Tuesdays only from 9am – 4pm. Everyone welcome.
Begins Tuesday 3 July.
Not open 31 July, 25 September and most school holidays.
After-hours clinics: 5.30pm to 7pm.
Barefoot Law Services
Consumer claims – seeking compensation through NCAT or local court.
Contract drafting and disputes – writing simple documents or letters for you
Wills – drafting an effective will or powers of attorney
Aging – guardianship or financial management orders for family members
Debt problems – communicating with people you owe money
Tenancy – advising you on your rights and writing letters to landlords
Parenting – helping you with consent orders and child support
Domestic violence – drafting ADVO applications
Minor crime – helping you respond to a summons and court orders.
Excluded – we cannot take on Serious Crime, Family Law Property Disputes or Immigration matters; but we can refer you to specialist services. However, we may be available if you need basic guidance before you get specialist support.
Classes and Clinics
1st Tuesday – clinic for community groups, non-profits, and social enterprises
2nd Tuesday – wills writing service (includes powers of attorney)
3rd Tuesday – clinic for artists and arts organisations
4th Tuesday – open workshop with varying topics of community interest.
How We Work – the Barefoot Law Process
Make an appointment – email to book a time to see us – preferred – or just turn up and be prepared to wait. email@example.com
Pay – you must pay something to MDNC by cash (or direct deposit). MDNC will collect the cash payments.
Heads Up – please email us before you come – preferably by email [or phone – max 5 min message] … outline your situation and what you want, so we can think about your situation before you arrive. To save time and money.
Outcome – we will write down some advice, a letter, document or decision.
Barefoot Law Fees
Minimum charge – $20
Half hour – $50
Full hour – $100
Class / Workshop – $20 per person (min 5 participants)
Our website will contain links to other services and useful documents including some document templates.
Stuff You Should Know
Provider – Barefoot Law is operated by Mark Swivel, a sole practitioner solicitor registered with the Law Society of NSW. Mark began practice in 1995 and has an unrestricted practising certificate. His firm number is 19799. Mark has operated his own firm since 2006. Barefoot Law is a registered business name.
Insurance – Mark Swivel Firm No 19799 has professional indemnity insurance with Law Cover.
Privacy and Professional standards – your matter will remain strictly confidential; we will protect your personal information; our ethical standards are set by the Law Society of NSW. If you are not satisfied with the service of Barefoot Law or wish to complain, contact: https://www.lawsociety.com.au/for-the-public/making-a-complaint/complaint-process.
Barefoot Law – Press Release – Mark Swivel
I get asked legal questions all the time – about wills or how to deal with ageing parents, maybe a disagreement with an employer, or what do with a summons. Community groups also ask more technical questions about rules and contracts.
So I started thinking there’s an unmet demand for low cost practical advice.
Lawyers usually charge a lot more than tradespeople and that’s never made sense to me. Legal advice is a service, a useful functional thing. Like making a table or fixing a car. It’s generally over-priced but it also has a value. We’re in this weird space where people pay way too much or expect advice for free.
In the Northern Rivers, low-cost legal services are also limited and underfunded. Mullumbimby locals have to travel to Lismore or Murwillumbah for legal aid or community legal center support. So there is a gap to be filled, no risk.
Since I moved to Mullumbimby in 2013 I’ve kept working for my clients who are spread around Australia, mainly mutual banks and credit unions; but I also do work in the energy sector and am a company secretary now at Enova Energy.
Recently I ran a course at Byron Community College for social enterprises – local non-profits and community projects. It was a great example of empowering locals with the knowledge to help them run their activities and make good decisions. Barefoot Law grew out of that course.
Of course, most law firms tend to work for people with resources – and their fees reflect the commercial value of what they are working on e.g. a property transaction, sale of a business or debt recovery. Barefoot Law is something else – it’s offering legal services to people who currently can’t or don’t access them.
Every community has many issues that a lawyer can help with – the challenge is to make the service cheap enough for the client with enough payment for the lawyer. Efficiency is also important – because time is money. So Barefoot Law will work best if clients tell us about what they want before they come in.
I’ve been talking to Julie Williams at Mullum Neighbourhood Centre for some time. The plan is to start small and build slowly. Over time we hope to create a useful and lasting community resource. I would also love other solicitors to come and work at or with Barefoot Law.
I will see private clients from 9 to 4 on Tuesdays. You can make an appointment or just turn up and wait. It’s much easier if you email me your issues beforehand! Then at 5.30 pm each week we’ll have a different class or workshop on social enterprise, small business, artists, wills.
Everything is confidential. Barefoot Law has the usual obligations of a law firm.
I have practiced since 1995, have an unrestricted practicing certificate and law cover insurance. Barefoot Law will be located at Mullumbimby and District Neighbourhood Centre but is a separate organisation and carries its own risks.