find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (1-3 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Join a dynamic Firm · Excellent career growth opportunity
View details
In-house lawyer 1-4 PAE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Leading Brand · Report to a Dynamic Legal Counsel
View details
New Zealand law societies look to merge

New Zealand law societies look to merge

NEW ZEALAND’S 14 district law societies are considering merging to form a single, nationwide professional body. This would involve abandoning the understanding on which they agreed to the…

NEW ZEALAND’S 14 district law societies are considering merging to form a single, nationwide professional body.

This would involve abandoning the understanding on which they agreed to the profession’s new governance model under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.

As part of the changes that will take effect in July next year under the Act, district law societies will lose their statutory status. Law society membership will also become voluntary and the national New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) will become the regulator of the profession. Law societies will have to incorporate or their assets will be transferred to the NZLS.

Until recently the district law societies had planned to incorporate and be members of the NZLS Council, carrying out regulatory functions on contract to the NZLS. It had been assumed that they would continue to manage their own representative functions and develop their own membership retention strategies. Essentially, the historical governance arrangements would be kept in tact.

However, the Auckland District Law Society, the largest in New Zealand with 4500 members and a $10 million balance sheet, has proposed a “One Society” plan under which all the district law societies would not incorporate but would act as branches of the NZLS.

Auckland District Law Society President, Andrew Gilchrist said it makes sense for the district societies to merge.

“At the moment we have 14 districts in New Zealand of which they all have statutory functions and the crazy thing is that the Auckland District Law Society have about 45 per cent of all lawyers nationally. Auckland and Wellington make up two-thirds of the lawyers. We are very enthusiastic about the one society model because we think it would be better for the profession. There would be greater national cohesion, we’d be able to move products and services on a national basis, have greater clout as one organisation and certainly our national firms with offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have a greater affinity to a national law society,” he said.

A spokesperson from the NZLS said a working group was currently examining the proposal.

“The latest on the issue is that a small group — comprising Chris Darlow, who completed his term as NZLS president at the end of March, retiring NZLS Vice-President Kerry Ayers of Christchurch and former NZLS Vice-President Warwick Deuchrass of Dunedin — is currently exploring the issue,” the spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, the proposal has been met with a mixed reaction from district law societies, some of which have expressed concern over a loss of financial control and control of their own destinies.

“One law society was initially negative on it but they are starting to come around. The noises we are getting from people down in Wellington is that they are generally in approval. The issue is that if one of the big law societies says ‘no it won’t work’ then it can’t go ahead. But if one or two of the small ones said no it could still go ahead but they would be sidelined and marginalised,” Gilchrist said.

Societies fearing a loss of local identity may face a greater threat if they don’t merge — that is a threat to their very existence. Once society membership becomes voluntary, it will be harder to get lawyers to pay membership fees, especially given that in New Zealand there is no requirement for continuing legal education (CLE), unlike Australia where this requirement means there is an incentive for lawyers to join societies to receive large discounts on CLE seminars.

The NZLS working group is expected to report back on the “One Society” plan at a meeting of the NZLS Council in June.

“I think we have a one-off opportunity to do something now that will last for at least 30 years and if we don’t do something now we will have missed our chance,” Gilchrist said.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

New Zealand law societies look to merge
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Scales of Justice, Victorian County Court, retiring judges
Aug 21 2017
Replacements named for retired Vic judges
Two new judicial officers have been appointed in the Victorian County Court, following the retire...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...