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One Society Still A Dream For Kiwi Lawyers

One Society Still A Dream For Kiwi Lawyers - The Law Jobs and News Wire

The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act, which is radically altering the structure of the legal profession in New Zealand, is off to a rocky start with the Auckland District Law Society closing its doors – at least for now – on the decision to unify with the rest of the country under it’s ‘One Society’ vision.

Part of the Act’s purpose is to unify the profession’s 14 district law societies under one national body. However delays with the restructuring had already seen the implementation of the Act postponed until tomorrow (1 August).

The ADLS had previously voted in favour of the ‘One Society’ model proposed for the profession, whereby the regulatory and representative functions are handled nationally, the regulatory function from Wellington and the representative functions, such as education, library functions and others, from Auckland.

The election of a new ADLS committee earlier in the year saw the District reassess the issue, particularly as to the representative functions that the ADLS was expected to undertake nationally. The ADLS complained about a lack of communication with the ‘bureaucraticised’ NZLS in Wellington.

A letter sent to its members today by Keith Berman, president of the ADLS, said that while the ADLS had “endeavoured to reach an agreement with NZLS” as to the District’s role within the new structure, it had been unable to reach an agreement.

“The course that NZLS recently resolved to follow involves costly consultants evaluation ghe delivery of member services, including alternatives to the current ADLS operation, which is contrary to the basic premise on which ADLS promoted the One Society,” the ADLS letter said.

Tight timeframes meant no decision could be made yet because the Act requires district law society assets to pass to the NZLS on 1 February 2009. Auckland is the largest law society by far, with over 40 per cent of all the lawyers, and is also the wealthiest.

While the door is not closed on the One Society concept, it is apparent that some major obstacles stand in the way of the unified profession envisaged by the legislation and indeed by the law societies themselves when they voted in its favour last year.

The ADLS Council has resolved to call a Special General Meeting on 21 August 2008 and to put the
issue of incorporation to members by way of a postal ballot.

“Over the next few weeks there will be opportunities to discuss the proposed incorporation. Practitioners are invited to contact any of the Council members below if they have any questions. Voting papers will be distributed with formal documentation in a few weeks”, the Berman letter said.

NZLS president John Marshall told LawFuel that he believed it was in the interests of the New Zealand profession to have one law society for everyone, “it’s as simple as that”, he said.

He said Auckland had to decide if they wanted to be part of a unified profession or to incorporate on their own. He said that was a matter for Auckland to decide.


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