Before we meet, I will have talked to you on the telephone to make sure I am the right lawyer for your particular problem (If I’m not, I will refer you to someone who is). I will have given you some preliminary, free advice and, if you decide you want to meet me to discuss your case further, I will advise you of my hourly-rate charge for that.
Before meeting with you, I will send you my standard “Letter of Engagement” which describes my Terms of Trade (including my hourly-rate) and the obligations I owe to you, as your lawyer.
My standard Terms of Trade are as follows:
My fees will be calculated in accordance with the Rules of Professional Conduct of the New Zealand Law Society. The fees take account of factors including:
(a) The skill, specialised knowledge and responsibility required;
(b) The urgency and circumstances in which the business is transacted;
(c) The complexity of the matter and the difficulty or novelty of the questions involved;
(d) The number and importance of the documents prepared or considered;
(e) The time and labour expended; and
(f) The reasonable costs of running a practice.
The relative importance of any of these factors will vary according to the particular circumstances of each case. The hourly-rate quote I give you in our initial telephone discussion will, except in exceptional circumstances, cover the costs of mobile telephone calls and photocopying costs. Sometimes there may be additional costs such as courier charges. For larger disbursements, such as Court filing fees, I may require an advance payment.
Where possible, I will give you an estimate of total fees. That estimate will be my “best guess” as to what the total fee is likely to be. I will send interim invoices to you, usually monthly or on completion of the matter.
Accounts are due for payment within 14 days of invoice and can be paid either by cheque, cash or by direct credit to my bank account. Sometimes, it is fairly obvious that the other party is likely to offer to pay some or all of your fees, in which case I would usually invoice the other party and you will not have to pay any legal fees yourself.
2. Responsibility for Services
I, personally, provide all the services at Workplace Law. Your file will not be handled by anyone but me.
I will hold in confidence all information concerning you or your affairs that I acquire during the course of acting for you. I will not disclose any of this information to any other person except:
(a) to the extent necessary or desirable to enable me to carry out your instructions; or
(b) to the extent required by law or by the Law Society’s Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
4. Conflicts of Interest
I have procedures in place to identify and respond to conflicts of interest. If a conflict of interest arises I will advise you of this and follow the requirements and procedures set out in the Law Society's Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers.
5. Professional Indemnity Insurance
I hold professional indemnity insurance that meets or exceeds the minimum standards specified by the Law Society. I will provide you with particulars of the minimum standards upon request.
6. Lawyers' Fidelity Fund
The Law Society maintains the Lawyers' Fidelity Fund for the purpose of providing clients of lawyers with protection against pecuniary loss arising from theft by lawyers. The maximum amount payable by the Fidelity Fund by way of compensation to an individual claimant is limited to $100,000.
7. Duty of Care
My duty of care is to you and not to any other person.
8. Client Care and Service
The Law Society Client Care and Service Rules provide that your lawyer must:
• Act competently, in a timely way, and in accordance with instructions received.
• Protect and promote your interests and act for you free from compromising influences or loyalties.
• Discuss with you your objectives and how they should best be achieved.
• Provide you with information about the work to be done and the way the services will be provided.
• Charge you a fee that is fair and reasonable and let you know how and when you will be billed.
• Give you clear information and advice.
• Protect your privacy and ensure appropriate confidentiality.
• Treat you fairly, respectfully and without discrimination.
• Keep you informed about the work being done and advise you when it is completed.
• Let you know how to make a complaint and deal with any complaint promptly and fairly.