The Government is to streamline the application process for legal aid lawyers and extend the length of time they have to claim payments for work done, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today.
From 2 July, legal aid lawyers will have six months rather than the current three months to invoice the Ministry of Justice for work that has been undertaken.
“An extra three months eases the administrative burden on legal aid lawyers and still gives the Ministry of Justice certainty so it can manage the legal aid budget effectively,” Ms Collins says.
“We are also making changes to the approval process for lawyers wanting to work as legal aid providers to give the Ministry of Justice more flexibility.
“Currently, applicants can only be approved where they meet strict criteria – for instance by demonstrating they have undertaken a certain number of cases over the past five years in the area of law they apply for.
“This makes it very difficult for lawyers who have taken time out of practice, for example, women returning to legal aid work after having children.
“From July 2, the Ministry has the discretion to approve applicants where they do not meet some of the prescribed requirements but where they can demonstrate they meet the test in other ways.
“The changes are designed to keep red tape to a minimum, keep quality standards high and encourage experienced and talented lawyers to work in legal aid,” Ms Collins says.
Source: NZ Government