Work is underway on a representative strategy, which includes an intention to provide representative services that are financially sustainable. It is clearly important to ensure that we continue to deliver our services to members in an enduring way. This will be discussed with our Council in coming months.
Practising certificate fee is not a membership fee
By law, the money that the Law Society receives from practising certificate fees can only be spent on regulatory matters.
Practising fees only pay for the Law Society’s regulatory functions – not the representative services it provides. Section 67(4) of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 prohibits any cross-subsidisation, and the Law Society has separate regulatory and representative accounts.
The starting point for the practising fee for 2023/2024 is $1430. Lawyers pay between $1430 and $2209 depending on whether they are practising on own account and hold a trust account.
Member services currently provided at no cost to members
Currently, most Law Society member services are provided at no cost to members and there is a limited amount of revenue through continuing legal education, events and section fees.
As a membership body, the Law Society provides strong national representative services and is the trusted voice for lawyers across Aotearoa. We provide extensive representation and wide geographical support of the profession. The Law Society currently represents 98% of the profession, with 13 branches across the motu.
We provide a number of representative services which all lawyers in New Zealand may access, including our wellbeing initiatives such as Practising Well. The Law Society’s sections and special interest groups are – Family Law, Property Law, In-house Lawyers, the recently launched National New Lawyers Group, plus eight regional new lawyer groups and branch committees and more. These groups provide members deeper opportunities to connect with other members of the profession, work through issues and share ideas.
Members of the Law Society have access to a range of services including education, networking and connection, information, technical guidance, support and advice. The Law Society also does extensive advocacy for the benefit of the profession.
These services are currently being funded by the Law Society’s representative arm. To support this important work, the Law Society is looking to introduce a modest membership subscription for its more than 16,000 members in 2024.
Offering member services in a sustainable way
As outlined in our 2022 Annual Report, representative services are operating at a loss, which is covered by reserves. Work is underway on a representative strategy, which will enable the Law Society to deliver its representative services that are financially self-sufficient. It is clearly time that we look to offer more services to members in a sustainable way.
Therefore, the Law Society is looking at introducing a modest membership subscription for its more than 16,000 members in 2024. The Law Society is currently undertaking work to determine and test the amount of a subscription.
Any decision on the membership subscription will not be confirmed until the Council’s annual general meeting in April 2024.
Law Society President Frazer Barton says “We know that members have a choice about who represents them. The Law Society already provide extensive representation and wide geographical support of the profession.”
What the practising certificate fee pays for: https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/professional-practice/legal-practice/practising-certificates/practising-fee-breakdown/