The Law Society’s response to the Independent Review has noted that given the significant cost of running libraries, the suggestion that they become a wholly representative function is unlikely to be a practical option.
Law Society Library services are currently funded from practising certificate fees and income generated from research services and document delivery. Libraries are part of the regulatory functions of the Law Society but are administered by Member Services (representative), with some user pays services.
Law Society Chief Executive Katie Rusbatch says, “There are also access to justice reasons why the costs of the law libraries should not be wholly representative.”
“This does not appear to occur in overseas jurisdictions – we have yet to find an example of where a law library is funded entirely from representative subscriptions.
“We received numerous submissions from the profession about the importance of the libraries and the services that they provide. Not all lawyers have the library and research resources of the larger firms – and for many lawyers the libraries are an essential facility.”
In other jurisdictions, significant funding to operate the law libraries comes from government, interest on trust accounts and from regulatory fees and levies. Funding is also frequently connected with societies or associations that have compulsory lawyer membership.
The Law Society Library is an extensive collection of print and online services providing information to legal practitioners. The library maintains three staffed research libraries (in the Auckland and Wellington High Court Buildings, and in the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct). There are also 44 kiosks in 33 locations for online access around the country.
The Law Society Library also offers research and document delivery services, and creates the LINX database which offers current, authoritative New Zealand caselaw and journal article references.