Freephone 0800 339 223
We're one of the largest specialist family litigators in New Zealand. Get in touch and see what we can do to help you.
CONTACT US IF YOU NEED HELP WITH EMPLOYMENT OR ACC MATTERS
Civil Legal Aid - help is coming New Zealand!
At the end of May there was an interview on RNZ between Kathryn Ryan and Dr Bridget Toy-Cronin, Director of Otago University's Legal Issues Centre. You can listen to this interview here. Dr Toy-Cronin has raised concerns, identified through research, about the delivery of legal aid - particularly that available for civil cases.
What does this all mean? You will probably best understand what a civil matter is by the laws involved: Employment Relations Act and Accident Compensation Act are two that are very common. Also included are some matters involving tenancy disputes, human rights, social security... the full list is available on the Ministry of Justice website.
We want to reassure New Zealand that while this is a difficult situation, there are those within the legal profession who are doing something about it. Ebborn Law has spent the past 18 months planning on how to deliver top-quality civil legal services to both privately-paying and legal aid subsidised clients.
We are about to launch this new service on July 1st.
The question that was left unanswered in the interview was "why are many law firms not providing this service?". The answer, according to Ebborn Law CEO Jarrod Coburn, is due to the structure of the law profession leading to a lack of good governance and empowered management.
For some time now (decades in fact) it has been good practice for businesses to operate a 'governance-operational split'. This is where the owners or their agents (directors) set the big-picture vision and the manager (CEO, general manager, kaiwhakahaere) is given operational freedom to achieve that vision.
Many companies have a diverse range of directors but law firms are restricted and only lawyers who are working in that particular company may be directors (this also stands for partnership models). This not only reduces the experience, culture and risk appetite of the board, it also makes it hard for law firms to attract top-of-the-range management.
Few professional managers working at the executive level want to work in an organisation where the owners are working alongside them. It appears in many cases (in the law profession) that few directors or partners feel comfortable completely handing over the operation of firm to a CEO. In fact, many law firms don't have a CEO, they have a 'practice manager', often someone who has worked their way up through administration and office management to the position.
This article might be seen as a harsh indictment of the profession, but if this is what it takes to start a discussion about the problems then so be it, because this is what is at the heart of the problems we are seeing with legal aid. As Dr Toy-Cronin implied, many firms cannot handle the administration and cannot turn a profit from what is being paid by the government for legal aid work.
Ebborn Law has managed to grow to be New Zealand's largest provider of family legal aid by adopting efficient systems.
The reason law firms charge such a high amount of money is because for the most part they utilise staff inefficiently. This wastage is amplified when the systems law firms use are taken into account. Many business people would be shocked to know how many lawyers keep paper files and back them up to computer, rather than using digital systems in the first place. Lawyers are still printing and filing emails in 2018! In Jarrod Coburn's opinion this is the result of a lack of strong management and good business processes.
Consumer attitudes are changing. They are demanding better stewardship of the environment; more ethical treatment of staff; improved customer service, but most of all; they are demanding value for money.
At the heart of every good system is good management. Good management needs the freedom to operate without interference. The way the practice of law is structured is holding back the sector. A conversation needs to start happening, focusing on how the law can be changed to allow good business practice to complement a strong legal profession.
Ma whero ma pango ka oti ai te mahi.
Our website contains all the information presented to social service and community providers during the 2016-18 workshop series. This has been made available through the support of NZ Law Foundation funding.
This information is written by lawyers where the matter directly relates to law or by non-lawyer experts where not.
The information is released under a creative commons license, so feel free to use it where you like, however it would be appreciated if you could attribute the source to Ebborn Law.
Gender in the Legal Profession
The NZLS Gender Equality Guidelines can be found here.
We're located at 13 Charles Street, next to Jay's Cafe (a truly excellence place for coffee and noms).
Our Blenheim branch gives Marlborough access to eight more legal aid lawyer and should mitigate the problems the area has faced because of high demand.
Rachel Black is our Marlborough branch. Her role covers not only Blenheim and surrounding towns, but also through to Nelson and up to Takaka.
We're easy to find and there is a big carpark for clients. Look for Clarence St South - the car park is off that side street. Or take a ride on the Orange Line bus (stop 28135 from Hallswell, 44108 from town).
Coming soon! Ebborn Law will be opening a branch office in Timaru to provide services to the people of South Canterbury.
We haven't got a location yet but we will have one by our opening date of 01 July 2018.
How Much Does it Cost to See a Lawyer? Maybe not as much as you think, as the government provides assistance for some people through Legal Aid and FLAS. Here are the costs of initially talking to a lawyer:
Give our friendly staff a call on 339 2233 or email email@example.com. If you live outside of Christchurch, you can call us on (0800) 339 223, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.
Free Phone Helplines
Support for men - contact the Canterbury Men's Centre