New Zealand Law Society - Bill to enable employed lawyers to provide free legal services

Bill to enable employed lawyers to provide free legal services

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

The Lawyers and Conveyancers (Employed Lawyers Providing Free Legal Services) Amendment Bill was drawn from the members’ bills ballot in Parliament today and will begin moving through the parliamentary process.

The aim of the Bill is to improve access to justice without compromising the standards of professional conduct and client care required under the Rules for Conduct and Client Care.

“This is an area that the Law Society has identified as needing attention and we look forward to the opportunity to submit on the bill as it progresses through the parliamentary process," Gabrielle O’Brien, the Law Society’s General Manager, Law Reform and Sections says.

Under the proposed Bill’s Draft for Consultation, employed lawyers would be able to provide pro bono legal services, subject to consent from their employer, while acting in accordance with the Rules guiding lawyers’ professional conduct.

Chris Bishop, MP for Hutt South and member who the bill belongs to, told the Law Society a letter to LawTalk from an in-house lawyer in December 2017 provided the impetus for him to bring the Bill forward. He saw the potential for the bill to expand access to justice.

“The current Act is far too strict in its application and stops lawyers providing legal assistance to those who need it.”