Lawyers deal with many personal, family, business and property matters and transactions. No one else has the training and experience to advise you on matters relating to the law. If your lawyer can’t help you with a particular matter, he or she will refer you to another specialist. Seeing a lawyer before a problem gets too big can save you anxiety and money.
Like other professional people, your lawyer charges for time, experience and skill in looking after your affairs. Ask at the beginning about the likely cost or tell your lawyer that you don’t want to spend more than a certain sum without the lawyer checking with you. If you are on a low income and there is the possibility of court proceedings, ask whether you might qualify for legal aid.
Choose your own lawyer for independent advice. You do not have to use the same lawyer as your partner or anyone else involved in the same legal matter. In fact, sometimes you must each get independent legal advice. Your lawyer should act for you.
Under these rules, you can expect that, whatever legal services your lawyer is providing, he or she must:
More information about what you can expect from your lawyer is available in the pamphlet, Seeing a lawyer.
The New Zealand Law Society has a number of online services which enable members of the public to search for lawyers in private practice who hold current practising certificates.
Lawyers must have a practising certificate issued by the New Zealand Law Society. You can call the the Society on +64 4 472 7837 or email email@example.com to see if the person you plan to consult holds a current practising certificate. You can also check this by searching the Society's Register of Lawyers online.