The Lawyers Complaints Service has been operating for only 6 years. And in that time it has received over 12,000 complaints about lawyers.
That`s bad news isn`t it? Especially when there are now 12,000 lawyers in NZ in total. (there were only 3,000 NZ lawyers when I became one in 1972).
But hold on. What`s this? According to the NZLS report received on 25 November 2014, the Lawyers Complaints Service take no further action in over 87% of the complaints they investigate; because either its obvious from the start (or after a thorough investigation taking months) there is nothing of substance in the complaint.
But isn`t even 13% of 12,000 complaints over 6 years (about 5 per week spread around the 24 Lawyers Standards Committees operating throughout NZ made up of appointed lawyers & lay people) too many?
Perhaps – although less than 1 complaint a week has gone as far as the Lawyers Disciplinary Tribunal.
What is really interesting from the latest report is that now 47% of complaints against lawyers are made by non clients. And that percentage is growing.
So we have a system where if your lawyer does a great job for you, one or more of the people on the other side can lodge a complaint against your lawyer.
That could result in younger, less experienced lawyers, having some apprehension about doing their very best for their client – fearing that someone on the other side will go to the Lawyers Complaints Service. That’s the really bad news. Lawyers shouldn’t be constrained by this issue hanging over them. They need to be confident that they can represent their clients with passion and determination – accepting of course that they have obligations to act fairly and lawfully.
David wants to assure his clients that he will continue to “go in to bat” for them – focused on their interests – as he has now for over 40 years.