An Independent Review Panel (the Panel) has now released its report entitled, Regulating Lawyers in Aotearoa New Zealand – Te Pae Whiritahi i te Korowai Rato Ture o Aotearoa.
The review was commissioned by the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS), describing it as a “once in a generation” opportunity to shape how the profession is regulated and represented.
Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa (THRM) participated in the consultation process and is pleased to have now received the Report as the outcome of this process.
THRM is generally supportive of the views of the Panel as set out in its Report. THRM has been of the view, since its inception, that the current model for regulation and representation of the legal profession is fundamentally flawed. The report shows that we are not alone in this, and that the current system is outdated, unrepresentative, and unresponsive. We agree fundamental change is needed.
THRM agrees with the suggestion for an independent regulator that includes Māori representation (amongst others), and the recommendations for a Te Tiriti o Waitangi section in any new statutory framework and that cultural competence should be part of the ethical and professional competence of a lawyer. We also agree with a number of other suggestions that look to establish more flexible ways to work – we agree that these would remove barriers to Māori in the profession and enable us to work in better ways.
We would have gone further than the majority of the Panel in a number of areas (as signalled within the Report), and the Report is silent on key structural issues relating to the representative function of NZLS in any new model. We encourage NZLS, and the profession as a whole, to move towards the type of model suggested by the Panel, in order to best support all members of the profession and the clients who depend on us.