I wanted to briefly update you on the new strategy for our representative function that will deliver more benefits for members in an enduring way. Last week the Law Society Council has indicated its support of progressing the strategy further.
The proposed new representative strategy, which seeks to deliver new and exciting benefits, is part of the Law Society’s organisation-wide transformation. We’ve already invested in a lot of services for our members and want to expand this and make it sustainable into the future. As you know, Law Society members have access to a range of services including quality education, networking and connection, information, technical guidance, support and advice.
We also do extensive advocacy for the benefit of the profession including supporting access to justice and the rule of law. The Law Society represents 98% of the profession and provides wide geographical support with 13 branches across the motu.
Our team has been talking to members to develop the new strategy so we’re confident that it will meet your call for improved member benefits. Our new strategy will make this happen over the next three to five years. It is going to take time and investment, but we know it’s worth it.
As you will be aware, only some of our services are user pays. Others have been provided at no cost to our members and, overall, are being funded by reserves. There is a limited amount of revenue through continuing legal education, events and section fees.
It is clearly important to ensure that we continue to deliver our services to members in an enduring way. By law, the money we receive from practising certificate fees can only be spent on regulatory matters, not on services for members.
In February, the Council agreed the status quo was no longer sustainable and, in principle, agreed to work towards introducing a modest membership subscription with more benefits. Last Friday, the Council endorsed the launch of a strong offer with a new membership subscription from July 2024. The council supports further work on the strategy before discussing it again in December. The modest cost of a subscription will be confirmed at the Council’s annual general meeting in April 2024.
We’re proud of the service we provide through our 13 nationwide branches, three sections and national office. We are a strong national voice for the legal profession in New Zealand advocating on your behalf. In the past year, nearly 10,000 members attended our 280 events, CLE delivered 31 webinars, 38 live stream events; 18 one- and two-day in person conferences, intensives, and forums, and offered 194 online modules. PLS and FLS offered specialist training following Cyclone Gabrielle and a court assault. A record number of 420 delegates attended the 34th annual ILANZ conference. We made 73 law reform submissions. We also provided 869 counselling sessions and mentoring for 648 lawyers.
Our proposed new strategy will build on these benefits. As well as offering members new exclusive benefits such as reduced insurances, we are looking at creating an associate membership category for any person who has previously held a practising certificate and is of good character.
We’re looking at how we can provide an even more compelling offer for our members, including the opportunity to join a section or group, and exclusive member offers such as reduced price for insurances.
The assumption is that we maintain our existing membership services, including Sections and Branches that offer a wide range of quality education and networking, which are incredibly popular and valuable for our members.
As you know, the Law Society accepted in principle the Independent Review’s recent recommendation to separate our regulatory and representative functions. However, such a change requires legislative reform, and this combined with the work involved to separate the organisation, would be likely to take at least five years if it is prioritised by Government. Later this year, I’ll be able to let you know about the new and exciting member benefits we will be offering from mid-next year.
I would like to thank you for your continued support.