Law Society’s Annual Report published
The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has published its Annual Report for the financial year 2019/20.
The Annual Report charts a year of disruption, starting with the evacuation of national headquarters in Wellington in July 2019 due to seismic issues followed by the national lockdowns in response to COVID-19.
“It was an incredibly challenging 12 months, not only for the Law Society but for everyone across the legal profession,” says Law Society President Tiana Epati.
“I look back with an enormous sense of pride at how the governance and management of the Law Society have successfully met the numerous challenges we have encountered while ensuring access to justice could continue. This was due to a close and co-operative working relationship with the judiciary, Government departments and other membership organisations.
“It was a year that also saw us announce an independent review of the statutory framework for legal services, sign an historic Memorandum of Understanding with Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa, launch a national mentoring programme during the first national lockdown, extend our counselling service, consult on changes to lawyers’ conduct and professional development rules and publish a draft stocktake report on access to justice initiatives in Aotearoa.”
Financial statements in the Annual Report show that overall, the Regulatory entity of the Law Society finished the reporting year with a deficit of just over $3 million, while the Representative entity had a surplus of almost $1.35 million.
“The Law Society faced an almost perfect storm created by the loss of its Wellington building, the impact of COVID-19 and the recognition that there has been historic underinvestment in the Law Society’s infrastructure and personnel over a significant period,” says Chief Executive Helen Morgan-Banda.
“In response significant work was done to identify and implement cost savings across the organisation with discretionary costs being reduced and some initiatives and other projects being put on hold.
“We also found a more cost-effective long-term option for our national headquarters in Wellington,” says Ms Morgan-Banda.
“As a result of the steps that we have taken, we are confident of the Law Society’s current financial position. We will continue to ensure that we remain financially sustainable while fulfilling our statutory functions to protect the consumers of legal services and regulate and represent the legal profession.”