– Wellington – 15 March 2007 A number of law firms in… – Wellington – 15 March 2007

A number of law firms in the Wellington regions have landed significant payments from the legal aid system, notwithstanding claims that funding of legal aid is insufficient and people are being left unrepresented in Court.

By region, Wellington was the biggest-charging region, dominating seven of the top seven spaces in the legal aid list and their top 10 chargers taking an average $724,000, compared to Auckland’s mere $500,000.

The top earner in the region was Solicitor General David Collins QC, currently in London representing the Crown on the David Bain appeal to the Privy Council. Dr Collins was Number 18 on the list of over 1400 lawyers and firms who shared most from the largesse of the Country’s legal aid payments where he took home almost $400,000 for the 12 months’ period to June 2006.

The figures were obtained by legal news website, under the Offical Information Act, which show payments made to over 1400 New Zealand lawyers and law firms. The top 50 claimants together shared over $20 million in legal aid payments for the year. (See full list:

Top of the heap in terms of legal aid earnings was the Wellington office of Kensington Swan, Wellington, which took $2.268,000 for the 12 months while sole practitioner Sonja Cooper, who has represented psychiatric claimants suing the Crown, took home close to one million dollars. Her total was $950,000 for the 12 month period.

The top 10 firms, and their legal aid earnings, from the Manawatu / Taranaki region were:

Manawatu / Taranaki

1. Kensington Swan (Wellington) 2,268,000

2. Sonja Cooper (Wellington) 950,000

3. Charles hirschfeld (Auckland) 937,000

4. Rangitauira & Co (Rotorua) 880,000

5. Rainey Collins (Wellington) 863,000

6. Powell Webber (Auckland) 768,000

7. John Miller (Wellington) 694,000

8. Thomson Wilson (Whangarei) 612,000

9. Ron Mansfield (Auckland) 508,000

10. McCaw Lewis Chapman 499,000

The full list is available for free download from the website: log in to

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