Access to Justice – Survey report 2021
The largest ever survey of lawyers on ‘access to justice’ in Aotearoa New Zealand shows the legal aid system is on life support. Thousands are struggling to get legal aid, with potential life-changing consequences when they don’t, and Covid-19 has greatly aggravated the problem.
Almost 3,000 lawyers responded to the Access to Justice Survey, which was carried out by Colmar Brunton on behalf of the New Zealand Law Society
Half of the lawyers surveyed rated the legal system as poor or very poor at providing everyone access to justice –
And that’s no surprise given how many people are being turned away because lawyers don’t have capacity to take on more clients.
50% of lawyers (excluding those working in-house) have turned away clients in the last 12 months, whilst 75% of legal aid lawyers have turned away people seeking legal help. Through figures provided in the survey Colmar Brunton conservatively estimates that in the past 12 months over 20,000 people were turned away from legal aid lawyers.
The figures show there simply aren’t enough legal aid lawyers with capacity to help the number of people needing legal help.
Legal aid lawyers are working for free
On average legal aid lawyers were not renumerated for half of the hours they spent on their last legal aid case.
Only 15% of legal aid lawyers were fully renumerated for time spent on their last legal aid case, while one in three were not renumerated for over half of the time they spent on their last legal aid case.