So let’s talk about Legal Aid, in this case NSW Legal Aid.
Their policy means that any firm which doesn’t submit V-status of their employees, will not be allocated new work. Further, if a client approaches this firm, Legal Aid will not allow the firm to act.
Well Legal Aid classify the firm to be an ‘inactive’ panel member, meaning, they are not to receive any work. However, they do allow the firm to keep the matters already allocated to them. Let me explain, that means the firm still has carriage of the old matters which were with the firm prior to the re-designation.
The client can continue to use the firm, especially if they are comfortable. They also have the option of moving, if they feel that to be appropriate.
Well, the risk? I mean, if the client is at risk, aren’t we a risk? Is there sense in this, I think not. Let me make this clear, I think this is ridiculous, but based on their own policy and agenda, it doesn’t really make sense.
Let me add to this, not one Legal Aid client has ever asked, cared or bothered with this policy. I’m sure some do care, however, this has not been our experience.
The policy is ridiculous in my opinion, we need a panel of lawyers who have different views, not merely one perspective. The fact Legal Aid and the government don’t respect this, well, is problematic. This should be the premise of law. Legal representatives should be allowed to have differing views, be allowed to apply those views and practice in such a fashion. Even in the basic example of a prosecutor and defence lawyer, both parties have a very different role and the people involved can have very different views. If both were the same, exact same, you’d not have a fair defence, at least in my opinion.
The views should be representative of the society at large, again, society in Australia wasn’t fixated to one view. I don’t doubt that the media at times made it look that way, however, just take a look around. If not before, now. Society is moving on and has done.
The current policy stops a firm that genuinely disagrees with the Legal Aid policy being able to act for clients that need it most. Let me add, we are a firm that is diverse in culture, language, views and opinions.
Finally, do we really want to be in an Australia that is not allowed to be critical or disagree?
To me, that’s a no.