I have read the article titled “Finding a match – how well does pro bono work in New Zealand?” by Craig Stephen (LawTalk 928, May 2019).
Respectfully, I wish to request a correction/expansion to the statement at paragraph 9 that:
“[S]ection 9 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 imposes restrictions on carrying unpaid work out with CLCs and CABs. In fact, lawyers could be found guilty of misconduct if they do so.”
As I am sure the writer is aware, but may have been omitted from the article, section 10(5) of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 provides an exception to the application of section 9, namely:
“Nothing in section 9 prevents a lawyer who is not an employee of a community law centre or citizens advice bureau from providing legal services to the public under the auspices of a community law centre or citizens advice bureau.”
I also wish to note that lawyers in community law centres are delivering high quality advice under often extremely challenging circumstances. Therefore the comment at paragraph 13 (albeit being one person’s opinion) that “[people in the middle] are unlikely to want to rely upon a free lawyer” is neither appropriate nor helpful; although I do agree that those who fall in the middle are often impacted by lack of access to justice.
Otherwise I wish to add my support to the pro bono work and advocacy that Ms Epati and her colleagues are carrying out, as this is extremely important and often unrecognised and undervalued.
Senior Lawyer, Waitematā Community Law Centre