New Zealand Law Society - Te Ara Ture: A bridge to law

Te Ara Ture: A bridge to law

Te Ara Ture: A bridge to law

Looking for a highly effective and managed way to deliver pro bono legal services? Te Ara Ture CEO Sabrina Muck provides an insight on how this pro bono clearing house connects lawyers on a pro bono basis with disadvantaged clients.

Sabrina Muck is Director of Te Ara Ture, a nationwide service within Community Law Centres Aotearoa. She speaks with LawTalk about how Te Ara Ture works with the profession in delivering access to justice to those in need.

Sabrina describes the function of Te Ara Ture (“A Bridge to Law”) as being a pro bono clearing house serving Community Law Centres Aotearoa and the clients they support, who are often the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our communities.

Te Ara Ture connects lawyers who have registered with the programme to deliver expert legal advice pro bono to disadvantaged clients.

Delivering pro bono services in a triaged way

With a database pool of over 100 legal practices, that is managed through a bespoke password-protected portal, participating lawyers benefit from the flexibility to accept or decline cases and in doing so relieve some of the pressure they may otherwise face managing pro bono work directly at a local level.

Sabrina Muck

Sabrina describes the process as “very structured and supports a triaged way to deliver pro bono services.” The work of Te Ara Ture is supported by Lee Difilippo, Referrals Manager.

Pro bono opportunities are regularly published to the Te Ara Ture portal, and circulated to lawyers registered with Te Ara Ture via email bulletin every Tuesday morning at 8.30am. There is no obligation to take on any of the matters circulated but for lawyers who do heed the call with capacity to assist, Te Ara Ture then sets about partnering the pro bono client with an interested lawyer, via a simple introductory email. It is then for the lawyer to carry out their usual client engagement process.

Te Ara Ture appreciates the support it receives from the profession, and welcomes registrations from new lawyers, particularly in regional and rural practices, and those delivering legal advice to Māori. “We accept referrals from all 24 Community Law Centres nationally, and so we know that, despite the incredible work that Community Law Centres do, there remains real unmet legal need across Aotearoa.”

“As the name suggests, we aim to bridge the gap in terms of access to justice by enlisting the pro bono support of registered lawyers. Having access to legal advice and representation makes a significant difference to the outcome on a matter. Te Ara Ture also works really well for lawyers wishing to engage in pro bono services in a highly targeted and managed way,” says Sabrina.

Sabrina’s own foray into community law came through a corporate career route culminating in nearly a decade with Chapman Tripp. Sabrina was drawn to the community space firstly as a Board Member for not-for-profit organisations and then as a senior / supervising lawyer for six years in a community law centre before taking on the role of director at Te Ara Ture. “I have long held a deep passion for community spaces. The opportunity to provide legal advice at a grass roots level to community law clients who are often the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in our society, is a real privilege that carries a strong sense of purpose. Through this work, we are able to walk alongside clients who would otherwise have nowhere else to go, with the aim of providing access to justice to those who need it most.”

How to help?

Lawyers wishing to register for Te Ara Ture can do so here: For Lawyers – Te Ara Ture