Auckland Community Law Centre is New Zealand’s oldest community law centre. It was established in 1977 (as Grey Lynn Neighbourhood Law Office) in the Ponsonby/Grey Lynn area – then the heart of a strong and vibrant Maori and Pacific community. After 37 years and a massively changed Auckland, we relocated to the CBD and renamed ourselves in 2014.
A commitment to providing access to justice for our community is at the heart of our work. We know that some sections of society miss out on access to justice, simply due to attributes such as race, culture, gender and means. Our goal is to transform lives and build a better New Zealand through the fairer application of the law.
Our services are different from traditional, mainstream legal services. Our services are designed to help people to resolve legal problems for themselves. We only do some of the tasks involved in resolving legal issues. In most cases, this is limited to one-off pieces of advice. Clients do the remaining tasks and are responsible for the overall progress of their case. The reason we do this is because demand for our services far outstrips our capacity. By carefully managing our resources we are able to offer a bit more support for legal issues which are urgent or potentially life-changing.
We have a very broad range of practice areas, although we do have a few areas of specialisation. These are: employment, debt, immigration, tenancy and family law.
We also have some eligibility criteria, which include financial, residential and practice area components. Some of the legal issues we cannot help with include commercial, business, conveyancing, relationship property and trust work. Our services are limited to people in the former Auckland DHB region (excluding Otahuhu), the North Shore (east of the motorway), and the North-East corner of the Counties-Manukau DHB region. This covers well over 700,000 people.
We provide legal services to over 3000 people each year. We do this with a team of 10 lawyers, 3 admin staff, a general manager and over 100 volunteer lawyers, firms and students each year. We are further supported by a Board of up to 8 trustees comprising senior members of the Legal Profession and community representatives.
The last 45 years have proved that community law is a success story. From the humble beginnings above a butcher’s shop in Grey Lynn we have seen steady growth in our services, and there are some fabulous statistics behind the story:
- over 45 years of community service
- the expansion of community law to 24 centres across the country
- 1 million hits annually on the community law national website
- 53,000 casework clients annually