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The Aboriginal Legal Service opened its doors in 1970 as the first Aboriginal Legal Service in Australia, and the first free legal assistance service in the country.


Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW/ACT)


SharePoint Online, PowerApps, Power Automate


Non-for-profit legal service

Organisation Size





The Aboriginal Legal Service work with some of the most disadvantaged and isolated members of Australian society to provide more than just legal advice; they act as the interface between the legal system and the community, making the legal process easier to navigate and helping to build trust and confidence on all sides. Lawyers work alongside social and community workers to ensure that advice and counsel is delivered with a full understanding of the people they support. To help scale their impact within limited budgets, they regularly integrate and train student volunteers and interns.

As with many non-profits, limited budget (compounded by an uncertain political funding environment) means IT capability has taken a backseat for several years. Inefficient processes are ​ allowed to continue because management focus on delivering client-facing work, and resource constraints often prevent organisations understanding how to quickly move to new digital technologies.

“We’ve created something with the help of Engage Squared that will not only make us more effective in the field, it’s also saved us a significant amount of time and money.​”
Michael Higgins, Chief Operating Officer

The challenge

Staff in community legal services can be spread across huge geographies; at the Aboriginal Legal Service (ALS), 250 staff are spread across more than 25 offices around New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (some of these regional offices may have just a single employee); at Legal Aid Queensland, 400 staff work out of 14 offices across the state, serving an area 3 times the size of Texas. ​

Legacy IT systems compound problems of isolation; systems are usually not mobile accessible (and sometimes restricted to staff in head-office), so senior staff struggle to effectively communicate with regional workers except via email. And manual business processes sometimes mean that waiting days for the postal system is a key part of getting administrative work completed. Coupled with sometimes difficult work, poor systems and processes and physical isolation can lead regional staff to become disengaged, leading to high staff turnover.

“Our community teams now have a system that will radically improve their efficiency as they deliver services and work with Aboriginal community members in our 26 locations across NSW and ACT.”
Michael Higgins, Chief Operating Officer

The solution: Office 365

To help address these issues, Engage Squared worked with non-profit community legal services to help them plan out a series of technical activities that can transform the way they and their staff work. At the Aboriginal Legal Service, we started with a staff portal, blending our IP on top of modern communication sites within SharePoint Online. We added rich features using PowerApps and helped to build internal communities on Yammer.

The new ALS Intranet has proven to be transformational, introducing mobile-first capabilities to connect teams in different locations using Office 365. It allows the ALS to properly celebrate the successes they and the residents are achieving as a whole and to share vital information from prior experience.

Clearly defined user journeys were mapped out during the design phase to ensure they were building for the needs of staff. Each individual has a personalised view they can change to suit their specific need in the field. Service delivery guidelines remain on the homepage for everyone so they’re always front of mind. As mobile teams travel, they have quick access to all the information they need to get the best possible result on their mobile device. They’re also better connected to the corporate leadership team, so they feel their support and hear about what’s being achieved at that level as well.

“This mobile-first SharePoint Online platform not only keeps the teams connected to everything they need for a given location, but it’s also used to celebrate community successes across the organisation and generate even more momentum for change.”
Michael Higgins, Chief Operating Officer

The impact

Regional offices are in control of their own information, sharing critical operational information like court dates, alongside success stories from their communities, featuring prominent locals, lawyers and indigenous staff.

Information from the community can more easily flow back to head office to inform legal and policy work and improve internal processes. Importantly, the new system brings practice areas from across offices together, helping to improve knowledge sharing and more quickly resolve issues. Community outcomes are shared up through the channels.

  • $250k per annum saved with 8-week PowerApps project
  • Increased staff engagement and retention
  • Improved visibility on information critical for effective community service

Learn more about the technology used in this case study

SharePoint Online
Microsoft SharePoint Online is a cloud-based services that empowers organisations to build websites, as well as securely store, access, manage and share information. It provides a rich collaboration environment where people inside and outside your organisation can work together, co-authoring documents on any device.
Power Automate
Microsoft Power Automate is a service that helps you streamline tasks by creating automated workflows between apps and services to synchronise files, get notifications, collect data, and more. It uses low-code, drag-and-drop tools and hundreds of pre-built connectors that automate repetitive, mundane tasks with ease.
Power Apps
Microsoft Power Apps is a suite of apps, services, and connectors, as well as a data platform, that enables you to build custom apps to suit your needs. Power Apps is a rapid development environment where the professional-grade apps and connectors are low-code so you can build and launch quickly and make improvements as you go.