Demystifying the Law

When I was in law school in the 1970s, there was a lot of talk about demystifying the legal environment. We were taught that lawyers had traditionally attempted to cloak their activities in an air of mystery; to use jargon and archaic language to ensure that their work seemed complex. By making legal processes and documentation so incomprehensible, the lawyers maintained barriers to the legal market, and kept the perception of their worth high.

Over the last few decades there have been tremendous advances in the demystification of the law, but the process is far from complete.

I am committed to practicing in a manner that assists my clients to thoroughly understand the legal processes, and to competently and confidently work within the legal environment. Underpinning that commitment is my personal philosophy that a lawyer client relationship is a partnership, with both lawyer and client making equal contributions to the relationship, for their mutual benefit and gain.

The name of my firm has been chosen to express my desire to demystify the law. In New Zealand it is still common for lawyers to describe themselves as barristers and solicitors. A barrister is a lawyer who practices in court (at the bar); a solicitor is a lawyer who instructs barristers and prepares documents. I am both, but chose not to appear in court. Lawyers who chose to practice solely as barristers have chosen to give up the right to practice as solicitors. The New Zealand law and rules of ethics governing barristers require that they do not accept instructions direct from clients. They must use a solicitor (such as me) to instruct them on a client's behalf. I have elected to call myself a lawyer, rather than a barrister and solicitor, because people understand what a lawyer is. It is much more easily understood than barrister and solicitor.