New Zealand Law Society - From the Law Society

From the Law Society

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

Vital role of standards committees

Two vital roles the New Zealand Law Society fulfils are the protection of the profession’s reputation and the protection of the people of New Zealand from inferior, or even downright rotten, legal practice.

Standards committees are right at the forefront of these two areas.

These two roles are not the Law Society’s only functions, which covers both representative and regulatory activities, nor are they the only part of the regulatory function. But they are a very important aspect of “upholding the rule of law and facilitating the administration of justice”.

This issue of LawTalk takes an in-depth look at the work of our standards committees.

I am happy to be one of the scores of lawyers who voluntarily serve as a standards committee member.

The service is very rewarding, knowing that we are working collegially, and with our lay members, towards protecting our profession and the profession’s clients from poor performance by the small minority.

It also, I have found, provides me many learnings which help me in my practice generally, as well as helping keep me up-to-date with professional ethics. That is very helpful when I am faced with some ethics related decision-making in one of the challenging situations that come across my desk from time to time.

One comment I’ve heard some lawyers make saddens me a little. I have heard lawyers suggest that the Law Society is giving too much prominence to lawyers who have not acted in accordance with the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008.

It is important that people generally know that we, as a profession, are putting in place measures that ensure that New Zealanders are receiving an appropriate level of service from lawyers and that when this does not happen, that the lawyer or lawyers concerned will be held to account. It is also important that the profession is appropriately transparent in providing this disciplinary function.

In my experience, standards committees are not only performing excellently in this respect, but we are also continually improving this very valuable service.

The new regulatory regime that came in with the 2008 implementation of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 made sweeping changes to the way complaints about lawyers were dealt with.

In my view, these changes ushered in a much enhanced disciplinary regime, and one that all of us in the Law Society have further enhanced in the eight or so years since its introduction. One such enhancement has been the introduction of the Early Resolution Service. Another has come from our learnings over that time about how we can improve our committees’ decision-making and decision-writing. As I wrote just a few paragraphs ago, one of the aspects of my service I have valued has been the continual improvement that we are achieving.

John Unsworth is the New Zealand Law Society Immediate Past Vice-President (Central North Island) and a standards committee convenor.

Lawyer Listing for Bots