Vanda Hamilton

Principal Lawyer: Vanda Hamilton

Vanda was admitted to practice in 2004. She has primarily worked since then in community law. Vanda spent nine years as an outreach lawyer at St Kilda Legal Service, working with the sex worker community and local community services.

Since then, Vanda has worked for Victoria Legal Aid, Fitzroy Legal Service, and the Mental Health Legal Centre.

Vanda has also worked in a locum capacity for the Darebin Community Legal Centre and the Central Highlands Community Legal Service (now the Ballarat and Grampians Community Legal Service).

Whilst Vanda has worked across a number of different areas of law, she has a particular interest in assisting people in low level criminal matters. This is because she has seen the stress and trauma that such matters create for people involved in the magistrates’ court system, and the lack of services to assist in such matters.

Means test

Single people who wish to use our service must earn less than $60,000 a year.

If you are a couple, you must have a combined income of less than $80,000 a year.

If you earn more than this, but have significant financial commitments (such as a big family) or significant financial difficulties, we are willing to have a chat and assess whether you can access our service. However we will require proof of those commitments or difficulties.

We will ask you to provide three recent pay advices in order to meet our means test. Please understand the necessity for these requirements. We are here to offer a service for people on a low income, but unfortunately we can’t just take people’s word that they are on a low income. Sad, but true!

How our service works

Our service is not based in an office.

This makes it possible to offer a service with such low fees. In all likelihood everything we do with you will be by phone and email. We know that there are people who much prefer to meet up in person, but we are unlikely to be able to have such meetings. If you feel you cannot work with lawyers who you will not meet in person, then our service is not for you.

If we appear in court for you, it is our preference that we appear in a virtual court hearing. We can appear in rural and regional matters, but only if the appearance is a virtual hearing. We understand that this is difficult for some people, due to difficulties with reliable internet services or inability to use the technology. We will work with you to overcome these difficulties.

What is a minor matter?

We can’t give you a definitive answer to this, and we are happy to discuss with you whether your matter is a minor one.

As a general rule, if you are eligible on your income for legal aid, and are able to obtain legal aid, we will not be able to assist you.

We can best assist in matters where there is only one brief of evidence and the charges are low level, ie. most driving charges, shop steal, minor property damage. We are happy to discuss with you whether your matters meet this criteria, and if we can’t assist, to try and help you obtain legal assistance.

In relation to driving charges, if you are adamant that you have a defence, we can not help you. Most defences to driving charges are very technical, and there are lawyers who specialise in this area. We will be happy to assist you with a referral to a lawyer who can help you.