Jonathan Marshall in the SST reports:
THE CRIMINAL barrister who took on more legal aid cases than any other – 599 last year, earning him $431,000 – has lost a last-ditch bid to stop changes that will end his ability to take on as many cases as he likes.
After four years in the business, 30-year-old Tudor Clee said he would “most likely” have to quit, with projections his caseload would drop 91%. From November 29, those who want legal fees paid by the taxpayer will be unable to nominate which lawyer represents them. Instead lawyers will be put on a roster and be awarded an equal number of cases.
Not bad to be earning $431,000 from the taxpayer by age 30. And I suspect his expenses only consist of a car boot.
With 250 work days a year, it means he was doing two cases a day. One can only wonder about the quality.
Clee told the Star-Times he currently handled “twice as many legal aid files as any other lawyer in New Zealand” but under the new scheme would be lucky to be given 51 files a year – one a week.
He said the average payment would be $700, but could be as low as $220 for some minor charges.
My advice for Mr Clee is to consider the novel prospect of trying to obtain clients who use their own money. If he is really good at his job (and one would hope so if he had 600 legal aid clients a year) he should have clients beating down his door wanting him to represent him, and willing to pay for it.