Cover art from David Neal (ed): On Tap, Not on Top: Legal Centres in Australia 1972–1982 (LSB, 1984)
© Bruce TindaleThe Alternative Law Journal grew out of the community legal centre (‘CLC’) movement and it is fitting as we approach Fitzroy’s Legal Service’s 40th anniversary that the Journal should devote an issue to the anniversary and to a critique of the CLC movement in settled middle-age.
My recollections are of the early days of the Redfern Legal Centre (‘RLC’), which opened its doors some five years after Fitzroy in 1977. The impetus for RLC’s establishment came from a group of very talented academic lawyers at the University of New South Wales’ Law School. Fitzroy provided the model. This journal — then under the less ambitious masthead, the Legal Service Bulletin — was influential in providing a forum for the exchange of ideas among legal academics and others associated with the emerging CLC movement. As Jude McCulloch and Megan Blair point out in their historical overview, the seeds of the CLC movement can be seen in the ‘politically turbulent 1960s’ and the movements for social and political change that stemmed from those times: the Vietnam moratorium marches, the ‘second wave’ of feminism, the freedom ride and gay liberation. I share Julian Gardner’s memories of the excitement and stimulation of practice in a CLC in those early days.