Practising lawyers benefit from Foundation support
Legal education funded by the Law Foundation has benefited literally thousands of lawyers throughout New Zealand, says the head of the Law Society’s continuing legal education programme.
Hellen Papadopoulos, Chief Executive of NZLS CLE Ltd, says the Foundation’s willingness to fund research and programme development has had a “significant impact” on her organisation’s delivery to the profession.
The Law Foundation has supported the Law Society’s continuing legal education programme since 1993. It has funded the development of workshops and other skills-based programmes, as well as visits to New Zealand by eminent international legal experts.
An example is the suite of entry-level skills-based workshops offered annually. Most are two days long with a low ratio of faculty to participants.
Starting with the original Duty Solicitor Training Programme, first offered in 1994, the workshops now include training in company, property, family, additional criminal law and civil litigation.
Hellen says that in each case the Foundation funded the development of the original workshop, then paid for major course redesigns needed later because of changes to the law and procedure.
“This has kept the costs for these workshops down, benefiting the employers of newer staff and especially those practitioners who pay for the courses themselves – as some do,” she says.
The Foundation was the principal funder of a major review of education and training in legal ethics and professional responsibility in New Zealand.
This led to the establishment of a continuum of education in ethics and professional responsibility through all levels, from university undergraduate to the practical legal training courses offered by the Institute of Legal Studies and the College of Law, and then informing the continuing education programmes offered to the practising profession.
Hellen says the Foundation’s funding support for visiting overseas speakers has added real value to conferences. It has also enabled the input of North American experts from the National Institute of Trial Advocacy to be included in the residential seven-day CLE Litigation Skills Programme.
Over the years the Foundation has supported literally dozens of other projects that assist the profession, whether through training and education, information services, databases, or improvements to processes and practice. A small sample includes:
- The New Zealand Law Style Guide and other legal guides for specific groups such as young people and workers in creative industries
- A national training programme for lawyers and barristers intending to become sole practitioners
- Trust Account Partner training programme cost subsidisation
- Polls of the public, lawyers and law firms on legal services delivery (this research informed the restructuring of the Law Society)
- Support for establishment and expansion of the New Zealand Legal Information Institute, which makes New Zealand court and tribunal decisions available free on a searchable database