The New Zealand Law Society has announced its moves to adapt to the rapidly changing legal marketplace by working on ‘strategic priorities’.
A news release from the Society (published below) shows that the Society is developing a “fit-for-future” role as the profession’s regulator after a tumultuous time both within the profession and within the NZ Law Society itself, following the resignation of both the former recently appointed Chief Executive Joanna Simon and the resigning of the elected president Jacqui Lethbridge.
Among the strategic changes being made by the Society include changes to the Conduct and Client Care Rules, which include mandatory reporting of bullying, harassment and discrimination.
The Law Society Press Statement:
The New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa has made a headway on key strategic priorities over the last year, as its 2021/22 Annual Report shows, Chief Executive Katie Rusbatch said.
“Transforming for the Future is how the Law Society is implementing change for the benefit of the public, the organization and the profession.
“The legal profession is changing at pace, and the Law Society needs to evolve to do the same. The Annual Report shows good progress over the entire organization in creating a fit-for-now and fit-for-the-future regulator and membership body.
“I am proud of the work the Law Society has done, and continues to do, for lawyers and the wider public. Whether it is the gains we have made in improving access to justice for all in Aotearoa New Zealand, or ensuring our complaints processes are more timely and responsive and everything in between, the Law Society is transforming itself to meet the expectations of all New Zealanders.
“We continue to work on our technological transformation to improve our systems and communicate more effectively with practitioners and the public across the country. This is critical to our role as regulator and representative body for the legal profession.
“We have built on last year’s theme by continuing to tackle major legacy issues while setting greater ambitions for ourselves and for the legal community.”
Key highlights from the Annual Report include:
– The Independent Review Panel was formed and the Review itself was conducted. The Panel’s final recommendations are due at the start of March, and we can be heartened by the engagement of the legal profession on shaping the future of our workforce;
– The implementation of the Regulatory Strategy, and work towards our Representative Strategy and Organization Strategy is underway;
– Increased support for legal aid was championed by the Law Society and we acknowledged the increase in Budget 2022;
– Implemented changes to the Conduct and Client Care Rules, including mandatory reporting of bullying, harassment and discrimination, and completed consultation on proposed Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 amendments and reported to the Minister of Justice;
– Building on our membership successes by launching a National New Lawyers Group and enhancing relationships across legal communities;
– Approved the establishment of a Climate Change Law Reform Committee; and
– Reviewed 64 Bills and 91 discussion documents; submitted on 26 Bills and 47 discussion documents.
“We will continue to advocate for access to justice and play a vital role in the development of good law for everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand. There is always more for us to achieve, and we are focused on becoming a fit-for-the-future regulator, but we are Transforming for the Future in a way which we hope will continue to strengthen trust and confidence in us from both the public and the legal profession,” Ms Rusbatch said.