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Bill To Increase Access To Justice Passes First Reading

A Member’s Bill which would improve access to justice by making it easier for lawyers to do work outside their existing employment has passed its first reading, National List MP based in Hutt South Chris Bishop says.

“My proposed legislation makes a small change to allow a lawyer who is employed in either a law practice or in-house (for example by a non-lawyer, like at a government agency or a power company) to do legal work other than for the lawyer’s employer, on conditions set by the New Zealand Law Society.

“Under the law as it stands now an employed lawyer may in some cases be guilty of misconduct if they do legal work outside of the lawyer’s employment.

“That includes advising a friend on a tenancy dispute matter or a domestic building contract or amending the local tramping club’s rules.

“There are many people in the legal profession who want to give back to their communities or help someone truly in need. Lawyers should be able to do this if it doesn’t conflict or get in the way of their employment.

“We know that the ban is commonly breached and not strongly recognised. Many employed lawyers do engage in legal work outside their employment, mostly on a pro-bono basis, and many lawyers are unaware that in doing so they are guilty of misconduct.

“This law change makes a sensible amendment that would allow lawyers to do work outside their employment on conditions set by the New Zealand Law Society. I expect those conditions will include the work being done with the employer’s consent and on a pro-bono basis.

“This legislation is just another way the National Party is committed to improving access to justice for New Zealanders without compromising the standards of professional.”

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