The Bee in Becroft’s Bonnet: Where Are The Lawyers?

The Bee in Becroft's Bonnet: Where Are The Lawyers? 2
The Bee in Becroft's Bonnet: Where Are The Lawyers? 3

The busiest court in the country is set in a location without its own criminal law firm, relying instead on the local community law centre.

Mangere has what Childrens’ Commissioner Andrew Becroft says is a ‘huge need’ for lawyers, but there is no firm in the area.Māngere Community Law Centre was the brainchild of a group of lawyers, including Andrew Becroft. who saw an unmet legal need in the community and helped set up the centre in 1986.

At law school, he had taken papers on access to justice and the role of law in the community, realising that in areas where lawyers were needed the most, they were least present.

He then went on a study exchange to Oregon, America, the “home of community law centres”, and realised the model could work in New Zealand.”It’s very hard for a traditional law firm to be profitable, which is why the community law centre model flourished throughout the western world as a matter of necessity,” he told

“It would be wrong to be critical of lawyers who are not locating there [to Māngere], it’s a matter of economic reality.”

There are about 26 community law centres in New Zealand, funded with nearly $13 million.

Earlier this year, the Government announced an increase in community law funding of $9 million over the next four years.

And it’s something that is much needed, Community Law Centres o Aotearoa chief executive Sue Moroney says, noting that 53,000 people access the centres each year.

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1 thought on “The Bee in Becroft’s Bonnet: Where Are The Lawyers?”

  1. where are all the lawyers ….almost farcical to ask that question ….for me the Margeret Bazley legal aid reforms …..the Legal Services Agency capping of hours , increasing compliance costs in unpaid times of LSA application reporting …the inconsistencies / uncertainties of income, same in the Ministry of Justice contract provider negotiations …. dare I say the poster social justice advocates having done some of “XYZ” of the private lawyer survival competition move asap to secure tenure judiciary., gold plated retirement super ; ..the exhorbitant [when compared with Ozzie States; costs of electronic legal data base accessibility ie Queensland $50 per month cf NZ 400 per month) …increasing fixed costs ( office/chambers, car parking) ….all of this ……and an increasing clientele who in addition to proper self-interest often demonstrate, in almost perfect parallel line with societies “me first” mentality… an increasing sense of entitlitus entitlement to rolls royce service at whose cost… all in competition with non-criminal lawyering , legal polyanna , business government and local govt employee ; and to cap it off inthe name of “increasing pubic confidence a NZLS complaints services which can simply hammer a practitioner into the ground and thats just investigative stage without any kind of quick and speedy alternate dispute resolution and without any “merit to grievance” screen process of complaints….community law centres doing, and indeed seemingly taking pride, in, no representation since their inception ( with local Law Societies encouraging this)
    … and despite new funding I see no change in that …. all of this meant in 2012 I for one , and many others ceased all criminal pro bono work, and after 21 years Level 1 criminal legal aid with its inherent pro bono aspects ; and in terms of civil litigation access to justice is in my view an exponential increasing rich versus poor divide and this scenario I describe poor civil litigant as anyone earning less than 50K gross…this alone my 33 years of concurrent High Court and above litigation experience which tells me when coupled with the “costs” awards regime, the new “civil electronic casebook protocol” means access to justice has evolved to such a level of high preisthood gatekeeping social justice litigation is a nonfunny joke….there needs to be a return to what 1910 Privy Council rules provided ( and was law in this country until Supreme Court Act) of in forma pauperis throughout the jurisdictions with a prelim before judge / justice that gives that party that issue an imprimatur of principled justice issue needing of trial of fact and law which neither lack of money nor lack of advocate status ought prevent happening

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