Canterbury lawyers have responded to the horrific terrorist attacks on the Christchurch Muslim community by calling for lawyers to offer pro bono services to families affected.
The Canterbury Westland Branch of the New Zealand Law Society says a list of firms and lawyers will be provided to Community Law Canterbury for families of victims to utilise.
“The families are going to progressively need help in a lot of areas. There could be immigration issues, childcare issues, employment issues, and tenancy and property issues too. It is not going to be easy for these people and they’ll need on-going legal support,” says Canterbury Westland Branch Vice President Ferne Bradley, who is a partner at Malley & Co.
A number of lawyers from Christchurch and other parts of New Zealand have already been in contact to offer pro bono assistance.
“Working through complex legal issues is what lawyers do best and we have a tremendous range of expertise to draw from throughout the region and New Zealand,” she says.
Mark Williams is the Convenor of the Law Society’s Immigration and Refugee Committee and his firm, Lane Neave specialises in immigration law.
He’s appealing to other lawyers and firms to answer the call to action.
“The least we can do is gift our expertise to our fellow Cantabrians who at this time are in most need of support. We’re here to assist these families on the ground, face to face,” Mr Williams says.
The Canterbury Westland Branch of the Law Society is working alongside Community Law Canterbury by providing a list of lawyers available to help in a wide range of legal areas such as conveyancing, wills and estates, tenancy, banking, family, ACC, employment and power of attorney.
“The legal community responded to the call during the earthquakes and they’re doing it again. It’s timely support, we’re deeply grateful for it and the Canterbury community will need this pro bono assistance for some time as families of victims slowly come to terms with new realities they will likely face,” says Community Law Canterbury chief executive, Paul O’Neill.