Friends, this is a funny old jurisdiction.
Anybody can call themselves a “lawyer”. You don’t have to have one day’s worth of legal training to be a “lawyer”, “will-writer” or “professional McKenzie Friend” – and yet these people are happy to take your money to give legal advice and do the talking for you in court or at a tribunal.
It’s a funny old jurisdiction because, on the other hand, solicitors and barristers are highly regulated and have gone through years of education and training for their qualification.
For the sake of true “consumer choice” one would hope that everybody in the business of providing legal services to the public would be regulated – but that’s not the way it is.
Legal matters are too important to be left to the unqualified and unregulated.
If a solicitor messes up your will, your family’s complaints can be investigated and insurance paid out.
If Mr Will-Writer messes up your will, you’re hardly in a position to complain – and your family is left with an ineffective will and dealing with your intestate estate.
Unless people are offering legal or McKenzie Friend services via a recognised charity – like the National Centre for Domestic Violence – I just cannot see why people should take their chances with “professional” McKenzie friends, unqualified will-writers or “lawyers” who are not practising solicitors or barristers – or other licensed professionals (such as licensed conveyancers or legal executives). If I need a will done, I go to a solicitor who specialises in writing wills.
Calling the unsuspecting public spending money on unqualified legal advisers “consumer choice” isn’t doing consumers any favours.