New Zealand Law Society - What can I expect from my lawyer?

What can I expect from my lawyer?

Lawyers must follow certain standards of professional behaviour as set out in the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. When you instruct a lawyer, he or she must provide you with information about:

  • The basis on which fees will be charged, including when and how they are to be paid.
  • Information about the lawyer’s professional indemnity insurance (if any), the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund and the process for dealing with any complaints from clients.
  • The name and position within the firm of the person responsible for your work.
  • Any limits on the extent of the lawyer’s obligations or liability.

The lawyer must also provide you with a copy of the client care and service information required under the rules. Your lawyer must:

  • Act competently, in a timely way and in accordance with your instructions and any arrangements made.
  • Protect and promote your interests and act for you without any compromising influences or loyalties.
  • Discuss your objectives with you and how they may best be achieved.
  • Provide you with written information about the work to be done, who will do it and the way the services will be provided.
  • Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable, tell you the basis on which fees will be charged, and tell you how and when you will be billed.
  • Give you clear information and advice.
  • Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
  • Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
  • Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
  • Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.

Usually you can change your lawyer at any time. You will have to pay for work done up to that point. A lawyer has a duty to complete work for you unless you agree otherwise, or there is good cause not to and the lawyer has given you reasonable notice.

Lawyers acting for other people must also treat you with integrity, respect and courtesy.

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