– Wellington – A number of law firms in the Otago … – Wellington – A number of law firms in the Otago and Southland 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.

The top earner in the region was Aspinall Joel with legal aid earnings of $313,000 for the 12 months until June 2006. They were followed by Hugo Young Law with $270,000.

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 Kensington Swan, Wellington, which took $2.268,000 for the 12 months.

Among the top group was Solicitor General, David Collins QC, at Number 18 on the list of lawyers 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.

Two lawyers, one in sole practitioner in Wellington and one barrister in Auckland earned almost $1 million each in legal aid takings. Wellington’s Sonja Cooper took home over $950,000 beating Auckland barrister Charles Hirschfeld by $14,000. Hirschfeld handles Maori and fisheries work.

The top 10 firms, and their legal aid earnings, from Otago & Southland were:

Otago / Southland

1. Aspinall Joel 313,000
2. Hugo Young Law 270,000
3. David Slater 224,000
4. Petrie Mayman Clark 148,000
5. Shona Reeve 125,000
6. John Westgate 120,000
7. Jenny Beck 118,000
8. Cruickshank Pryde 117,000
9. Eagles Eagles & Redpath 110,000
10. Anne Stevens 106,000

© 2007

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