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Access to Justice — Pro bono

07 June 2019

I note in [Craig Stephen’s] article regarding pro bono work, mention was made of the restrictions of practitioners “carrying unpaid work out with CLCs and CABs…. Lawyers could be found guilty of misconduct if they do so.” [page 62]. Now before our sterling volunteers who contribute many hours of unpaid work to CLCs run screaming for the hills, may I draw your attention to s10(2)(5):

“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.”.

Section 6 – legal services means services that a person provides by carrying out legal work for any other person; and

legal work includes–

  1. the reserved areas of work:
  2. advice in relation to any legal or equitable rights or obligations:
  3. the preparation or review of any document that–
    1. creates, or provides evidence of, legal or equitable rights or obligations; or
    2. creates, varies, transfers, extinguishes, mortgages, or charges any legal or equitable title in any property:
  4. mediation, conciliation, or arbitration services:
  5. any work that is incidental to any of the work described in paragraphs (a) to (d)

So – valued volunteers, please carry on doing the good work that you do!

We appreciate it very much!

Caryl O’Connor
Managing Solicitor, Community Law Otago

LawTalk Editor Geoff Adlam replies:

Sabrina Muck and Caryl O’Connor are totally correct. The valued volunteer lawyers at community law centres and citizens advice bureaux can certainly work through CLCs and CABs. As well as section 10(5) which they both point to, section 31(4) of the Act also assists. The Law Society’s Practice Briefing, Guidance for lawyers undertaking pro bono work is also helpful. Craig Stephen was certainly aware of this and used the term ‘out with’ to explain that the work was outside of that done on behalf of CLCs and CABs, but we appreciate how it could have been misinterpreted.

We greatly appreciate the wonderful efforts of all lawyers who provide time and assistance to community law centres and citizens advice bureaux.

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Last updated on the 7th June 2019