11 Mar 2019

NZ lawyers get a triple round of applause

New Zealand lawyers more trusted than Australians, uphold high standards though tribunal notes 'staggeringly high' bullying claims, and, survey shows 1 lawyer per 365 people.


New Zealand lawyers were trusted by 72 per cent of respondents to a survey which asked who were the most trusted professions and institutions. Meanwhile a tribunal report suggest high standards are being upheld, and NZ law society offers snapshot of a profession that has 1 lawyer for every 365 people.

Trusted more than Aussies

The report on ‘The future of trust,’ was carried out for Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) amongst New Zealand and Australian respondents. The results showed that Australian lawyers were trusted by 61% of respondents. Specific findings showed trust in the justice/court system (75 per cent in New Zealand and 65 per cent in Australia. For lawyers, the respective numbers are 72 per cent and 61 per cent. Respondents were asked what single action would be most likely to decrease trust in a particular group. The report combines results for New Zealand and Australian respondents. For lawyers, 38 per cent said if ‘they behave unethically,’ followed by ‘they are dishonest’ (30 per cent) and ‘they do not protect the vulnerable’ (7 per cent). Regarding the impact on trust of increased use of technology, the combined result for lawyers found that 45 per cent of respondents stated ‘trust them the same,’ followed by 37 per cent saying ‘trust them more,’ 10 per cent saying ‘trust them less’ and 8 per cent selecting ‘tech use hasn't increased.’

Upholding high standards

A further boost to the New Zealand legal profession came from findings that they appear to be upholding the high professional standards required of lawyers. The report was made by the New Zealand Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal. The report states, ‘as at 30 June 2018 there were 14,177 lawyers holding practising certificates. The very small number of lawyers (less than 0.2%) appearing before the Tribunal in comparison with the total number of lawyers practising in New Zealand suggests that these high standards are being upheld.’ The Tribunal describes the reporting year as a relatively quiet one in terms of new filings. In the year to 30 June 2018,  it received 26 new cases and disposed of 35 cases. At the end of the year, 21 cases were on hand. While noting that 2017/18 was a relatively quiet one for filings, the Tribunal says it can hardly be said to have been a quiet year for the legal profession. The report notes, ‘the reported surveys conducted by the New Zealand Law Society and other professional organisations revealed a staggeringly high proportion of practitioners having experienced sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination.’

‘One a Day’ lawyers

The other dimension getting attention is the fact New Zealand has more lawyers than ever according to the law society’s latest stats on the New Zealand legal profession, which show over 14,000 lawyers holding practising certificates. That amounts to one lawyer for every 365 people in the country, one of the highest per-capital lawyers-per-head in the world. New Zealand has one of the highest lawyers-per-head in the world. There is a 24 per cent increase in lawyers since 2011, compared to a 12 per cent increase in the overall population. The Snapshot of the Profession 2019 is available here.

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