The Law Society is well on its way to delivering even more value to members through a refreshed membership offer that’s financially sustainable, with the Council indicating its support for a new representative strategy at its October meeting.
The Council will discuss the strategy again in mid-December and final approval, including the amount of a proposed membership subscription, will be on the agenda for the Council’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in April 2024. If approved, a subscription will be introduced to coincide with practising certificate renewals in July 2024.
Why is a new Representative strategy needed?
The money we receive from practising certificate fees can only be spent on regulatory matters, not on representative services the Law Society provides to members. Section 67(4) of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 prohibits any cross-subsidisation, and the Law Society has separate regulatory and representative accounts. Currently, most member services are provided at no cost to members and are being delivered at a significant deficit. The deficit is currently funded by reserves and is not sustainable. It also means the Law Society can’t add greater value to its membership offer.
About the new strategy
The new strategy will:
- Introduce a modest membership subscription in July 2024 that will help us shift toward a sustainable membership offer.
- Any decision on the amount of a membership subscription will not be confirmed until the Council’s AGM in April 2024.
- Retain and build on our existing member services across the motu, including branches, sections, NZLS CLE and education, mentoring, health and wellbeing and more.
- Broaden our offer to include exclusive member offers, such as discounted insurances.
More than 130 members from around the country took part in 17 focus groups to help inform our strategy and tell us what’s important when it came to a valuable membership offer. In addition, meetings were held with every branch council and section executive and Council members Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa and Pacific Lawyers Association, and NZ Asian Lawyers.
What you told us
We tested a proposed offer with members who took part in the focus groups that included the following four value pillars.
Profession speaking with one voice
On issues relating to the Rule of Law, access to justice and for the profession
Education and connection
Quality black letter law. Related learning, networking and collegiality, keeping informed delivered through sections, branches and from the centre
Help in the moments that matter
Practice area, for example through sections, career stage, critical moments, for example, complaints and technical
Saving me money
Exclusive members offers – personal, professional, business
Overall, members described the offer as ‘good’ and something they would consider paying for.
Members most valued (in order of priority):
- Stronger, more visible law reform and advocacy – for rule of law, access to justice, and advocacy for the profession
- Education and networking. Member pricing for NZLS CLE
- Help in the moments that matter – especially health and wellbeing, complaints, AML, career stages
- Member exclusive offers, for example, professional indemnity insurance, banking
Work is now underway on building on our offer based on what we heard from the profession, including tailoring our offer to meet members’ differing needs. This will include customising our offer for those who opt to join or continue to be a member of a section. As the Law Society improves its offer to better reflect all the different benefits offered to members, we will work with sections to ensure everyone has easy access to section membership.
We look forward to sharing all the details with the profession following the Council’s AGM in April.
What do we currently provide to our members?
Members of the Law Society currently have access to a range of services at no cost, including:
- networking and connection
- technical guidance
- support and advice, and,
- advocacy for the benefit of the profession.
Law libraries, Vitae counselling, mentoring and law reform are funded from regulatory. Our proposed new strategy will build on these.
We have a lot to be proud of. We have a national reach via our branches, and our three sections offer deep support to in-house, family and property lawyers. In the last year, nearly 10,000 members attended our 280 events across branches, sections and NZLS CLE.
“More than 130 members from around the country took part in 17 focus groups to help inform our strategy and tell us what’s important when it came to a valuable membership offer”
As a membership body, the Law Society provides strong national representative services and is the trusted voice for lawyers across Aotearoa New Zealand. We provide extensive representation and wide geographical support of the profession. The Law Society currently represents 98 per cent of the profession, with 13 branches across the motu.
We provide several representative services which all lawyers in New Zealand may access, including our wellbeing initiatives such as Practising Well.
Our advocacy work has influenced change on important issues affecting the profession. Our work ranges from health and safety and facilities in the courts to advocating for the wellbeing of the profession. We summarised the work we undertook during the parliamentary term that recently ended. We made more than 200 formal submissions on bills, discussion documents, Law Commission reports, and other consultations. Read our report and for more information about the work we do in the advocacy space see our Advocacy in Action.
The next steps include developing a marketing strategy, investigating commercial partnerships with organisations such as insurance providers and banks.
This work has already begun and will continue into 2024. The Law Society will communicate with members as soon as possible after the April meeting.