Fees too low, says lawyer
Fixed fees for legal aid providers will discourage senior and experienced lawyers from providing the service, a Porirua law specialist says.
Until July 1, legal aid providers charged the Ministry of Justice by the hour, but the ministry now pays lawyers a fixed amount per case, regardless of hours worked.
The fees differ depending on the court and the task, but range from $100 for reporting to a family court client to $2800 for preparing cases for a criminal hearing.
When the fees are broken down into an hourly rate, it doesn’t even cover a senior lawyer’s overheads, Family Law Specialists director Catriona Doyle says.
‘‘Senior lawyers aren’t going to do it.
‘‘You can’t do the professional job for that amount of money,’’ she says.
Fixed fees ignore whether the circumstances of a case are simple or complex, Ms Doyle says.
It’s not fair on defendants to restrict their representation to less experienced lawyers, Ms Doyle says.
‘‘You’re talking about people’s lives, children’s lives,’’ she says. ‘‘They need a good lawyer, not just a junior lawyer.’’