Ms White has yet to be paid for her efforts, and she claims that even if the case is finally resolved, she would only be paid $660.80.
Brittany White, a Brisbane lawyer, has been working on a major case for almost a year. It’s a complicated case with mental health issues, so it’s been bouncing back and forth in court while reports and evidence are finalized and filed.
“It’s costing me money, from the number of phone calls I have to make to the number of interactions I have with [my client’s] Public Guardian. I’m only holding the matter because of ethical considerations “Ms. White explained.
Ms. White took up the matter on behalf of Legal Aid Queensland (LAQ).
Payments for such cases are based on tight grants established with funds provided by the state and federal governments to LAQ.
For more than a year’s labour, she expects to be paid the equivalent of a day in the Magistrates Court. A lawyer’s pay may not increase as a result of more appearances.
Outside lawyers, such as Ms White, who are known as preferred suppliers, handle up to 80% of Legal Aid cases in Queensland as part of a mixed service delivery system with in-house lawyers. However, the number of businesses that choose to work on legal assistance cases is declining.