Supporting the community by enabling access to justice

Baywide Community Law provides free legal advice to people on low incomes, or with disabilities or other disadvantages. We provide free legal information to everyone in our community.

We support our Bay of Plenty community by enabling access to legal services. We achieve this through personalised help, regional one-on-one clinics and easy and free access to resources and information.

If for some reason we are not able to help, we will point you in the right direction.

Contact us to find out more.

We can help with all kinds of legal problems, including:

  • Family matters (parenting issues, care of children, adult relationships)
  • Domestic violence and family harm
  • Employment problems
  • Tenancy and housing issues
  • Criminal matters
  • Money troubles (Work and Income, credit and debt, fines, problems with goods and services)
  • Māori land
  • Issues for young people (family matters, problems at school, youth justice)
  • Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney (we can provide advice on these documents but we do not draft or execute them)
  •  Human rights and privacy rights
  • Health-related matters (ACC, health and disability, mental health)
  • Immigration
  • Some legal issues for community organisations

In general, we can not help with problems that are about increasing your wealth. We therefore do not

  • Advise landlords.
  • Advise employers.
  • Advise businesses.
  • Do conveyancing work.
  • Advise on company/commercial law.
  • Advise on trusts.

We also can not give a second opinion where a lawyer is already acting for you.

If you need help and we can’t assist you, we can provide you with information, options for support through other avenues and, potentially, a referral to a legal aid lawyer. Contact us if you have questions.

Who we can help

We can help people on low incomes, or with disabilities or other disadvantages with free legal advice. We provide free legal information to everyone in our community.

If you live along the Bay of Plenty coast, from Waihi to Te Kaha, then we can help you with your legal questions.

To find out whether we can make you an appointment for  one-on-one legal advice we will need to find out more about your situation.

If you are under 18 or your question is about Māori Land law there are no financial criteria and we can give you one-on-one legal advice.

For all other issues, we will need to ask you some questions about your financial situation. If you’re a student, a beneficiary, unemployed, or on a low income, it’s likely that we can give you initial legal advice.

We also help people who are vulnerable in other ways, for example if you have trouble reading, if you’re homeless, transient or in a crisis living situation, if you come from a refugee background, if you’re adversely affected by disability, mobility issues or mental illness, or if you’re experiencing violence.

If you are unsure about whether we can help, the best thing to do is to contact us. The law can be complex and every situation is different.

Accessing our services

To ensure our services are readily accessible we offer a range of options. You can receive your legal advice by telephone, online via Zoom, or in-person at either our Tauranga or Whakatane offices, or one of our regional clinics.

When we make you an appointment we will ask if you have any disabilities we need to accommodate.

Our privacy statement explains how we collect, store and use your personal information, in compliance with the Privacy Act.

For more information on the legal advice we provide to clients please see our client care information.

How it works:

Step 1:
Contact Us

We prefer you phone us with your enquiry first, however, you can also make enquiries at our offices. We will ask you some questions to determine whether you are eligible for free legal advice. If you are not eligible, we can give you information and options for support through other avenues. If you are eligible, we will make you an appointment either in-person, by phone, or online via Zoom.

Step 2:
Your First Interview

Your initial interview will either be face-to-face, or over the phone, or online via zoom. During your initial interview, we’ll help you work out what your legal problems are. We’ll work through the different choices and solutions available to you. Usually you’ll have more than one option. We can help you work out which solution best suits you, and help you to achieve it – perhaps by drafting a letter, or an agreement, or by contacting the other party.

Step 3:
What you should bring

If you want to, you can bring a support person with you. We realise that legal information can sometimes be technical or unfamiliar, so having a trusted supporter who can help may make it easier to share and remember this information. You should also bring any paperwork about your legal problem – for example, a summons to appear in court, a copy of a protection order, your employment contract, or your tenancy agreement. It is helpful to make a note, or create a timeline, of the events that you wish to receive advice about. Our interviews are generally between 30 minutes and an hour long, and your clear recollection of what has happened enables us to give you the best advice we can in that limited time.

Step 4:
Ongoing legal help

Often, one letter or phone call is enough to solve the problem. But if your legal problem is more complicated, we may be able to give you ongoing legal help. This means we will open a file for you at our office and work alongside you until you’ve found a solution to your legal issue.
If we can’t provide ongoing help, we can refer you to a private lawyer who is right for you. You may have to pay for this private lawyer’s advice, or you may be eligible for Legal Aid.
Representation in court: If your legal problem is not solved before this stage, in some circumstances we can represent you in tribunals or courts. We only represent a very small number of people, and only if we have enough resources. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis.