New cooperative of law firms providing legal aid

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A national cooperative of law firms has been launched to assist people to access legal aid lawyers and support the law firms who provide legal aid.

Legal Aid Providers Aotearoa (LAPA) has approached 136 law firms around New Zealand who provide legal aid to join the cooperative. LAPA is holding a summit in July for the law firms invited to join the new cooperative. Law firms who join LAPA will sign a charter and be listed on the LAPA website.

The NZ Law Society reported that LAPA Acting Secretary Jarrod Coburn said "LAPA will be a valuable resource for people who need access to justice, with an 0800 number and website designed to assist in finding a legal aid lawyer quickly."

The idea for LAPA came from Christchurch family lawyer Erin Ebborn, of Ebborn Law. Ms Ebborn said "Up until now it has been very difficult for the public to identify and locate lawyers committed to delivering legal aid. So the major beneficiaries of this cooperative will be social services and other organisations who work with people on low incomes, and the likes of women's refuges who regularly seek urgent legal intervention for their clients."

See the LAPA website for more information: www.legalaid.org.nz.

Shortage of lawyers providing family law legal aid

Stuff recently reported that the number of lawyers providing family legal aid work has reduced by almost half in the past nine years. It said Ministry of Justice figures, released under the Official Information Act, show the number of "family lead providers" for legal aid fell from 1850 in June 2007 to 942 in June 2016. Lawyers spoke about the impacts on people unable to access representation.

In 2016, Radio New Zealand reported a 25% decrease in lawyers doing family legal aid work nationally over the last five years. Some regions were reported to be experiencing even more significant shortages.

Previous NZFVC stories

Six Legal aid offices to be closed (September 2016)

Access to lawyers and family court reforms (March 2016)

Call for inquiry into equality of access to justice (July 2015)

Report proposes way to evaluate family court reforms (July 2015)

Media

Pursuing Justice on the Flip Side, Media release: Ebborn Law, Scoop, 20.10.2017

Marlborough family lawyer concerned about people forced to self-represent, Marlborough Express, 07.05.2017

Legal aid bills skyrocket, but in some cases no lawyer can be found for kids in danger, Stuff, 04.05.2017

Lawyers Collaborate to Avoid Disruption, Press Release: Legal Aid Providers Aotearoa, Scoop, 04.05.2017

NZ Law Society welcomes temporary solution to family legal aid lawyer shortage, law Society, 30.03.2017

Fewer lawyers taking legal aid could lead to justice issues, lawyers say, Stuff, 21.12.2016

Concerns new law will further strain court system, Radio NZ, 31.10.2016

'Greying workforce' could create crisis for Family Court, Radio NZ, 17.10.2016

Legal commentator Simon Jefferson, Nine to Noon, Radio NZ, 28.09.2016

Insight: The Family Court on Trial, Radio NZ, 25.09.2016

Family Court lawyer shortage 'critical', Nine to Noon, Radio NZ, 19.09.2016

Right to fair trial being undermined, says Sir Ron Young, New Zealand Law Society news, 08.09.2016

Family Court reform review for 2017, New Zealand Law Society news, 05.07.2016

More parents resolving disputes outside court, Beehive: Amy Adams, 30.03.2015

More parents resolving their differences out of court, Beehive: Amy Adams, 23.10.2014

Legal aid funding limits creating 'justice gap', Stuff, 19.07.2014