Advice for Tudor Clee

November 14th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Jonathan Marshall in the SST reports:

THE CRIMINAL barrister who took on more 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 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.

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31 Responses to “Advice for Tudor Clee”

  1. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    This is not normal. He was admitted only 4 years ago and should be getting nowhere near this amount of work.

    Anything over 250 cases a year makes for a busy year. Less if you do jury trial work.

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  2. tvb (4,240 comments) says:

    Yes I find the ability to get 600 cases a year simply incredible. How does he get all those referrals, from where and under what circumstances. Two cases a day is not that difficult for summary cases where guilty pleas are being entered and he has no other commitments. But it is the circumstances he is getting the huge volume of work that I have to question – how I ask.

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  3. alex Masterley (1,498 comments) says:

    He has an office but not where I would expect for a Criminal Barrister in Auckland.

    It is close to motorway on and off ramps!

    The caselaod is extraordinary and in my experience it would be unmanageable.

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  4. MT_Tinman (3,043 comments) says:

    I fail to see the problem here.

    No one was forced to use Mr Clee, there is no mention of complaints and Mr Clee, it appears, is happy to do the hard work and earn his money.

    Isn’t capitalism allowed in legal practices?

    [DPF: It's not capitalism when the taxpayer pays. When the person receiving the service is not paying for it, then that is not capitalism and removes all the normal incentives that capitalism works on]

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  5. J Mex (184 comments) says:

    “I’m here defending you on the charges of . . . [looks at sheet] Murder One!? Even if I lose I’ll be famous!”

    But seriously – My understanding is that Mr Clee is an excellent law talkin guy.

    He uses suprise witnesses – each more suprising than the next – and has argued in front of every judge in this state. Often as a lawyer!

    Anyway, as of this moment, Tudor Clee no longer exists. Say hello to Miguel Sanchez!

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  6. J Mex (184 comments) says:

    P.S – I note that Tudor Clee is a facebook friend of yours, DPF.

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  7. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    I have met him. He is North American. Canadian I think?

    Drives a 911 Porsche, and thinks he is a top gun Lawyer. he has some very unsavoury connections, and the Police and Criminal Justice System are bound to delight in his workload cap.

    Frankly he is everything that is wrong about the Legal Profession. Hopefully he will find the ‘New Deal’ uneconomic and go home.

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  8. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    He was telling me over dinner about how hard he actually did work. But the referrals are all from his Clients known acquaintances.

    [deleted by DPF]

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  9. George Patton (350 comments) says:

    Is this the same Tudor Clee who calls himself a fashion designer?

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  10. scanner (340 comments) says:

    Fucking parasite, bring the rope, I’ve found a good strong tree.

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  11. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    Not just here in NZ, that the Legal Profession has been engaged in Policy, Legislation, and a Tax Payer funded Rort to keep them as rich as possible.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8131306/Legal-aid-clampdown-will-save-300-million.html

    Remember that 95% of Lawyers give the others a bad name.

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  12. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    Just remembered.

    [deleted by DPF as defamatory]

    Funny chap really.

    Glad I don’t know him too well.

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  13. J Mex (184 comments) says:

    scanner (221) Says:
    November 14th, 2010 at 4:49 pm
    Fucking parasite, bring the rope, I’ve found a good strong tree.

    Remember what your therapist said, scanner…

    Deep breaths and thinking of something pleasant can help with the anger management issue. The violent fantasies are going to need some stronger coping strategies, but for this weekend focus on the brain/action filter mechanism (count to 50 before responding to anything) and work on the base self esteem issues.

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  14. GPT1 (2,103 comments) says:

    [DPF: It's not capitalism when the taxpayer pays. When the person receiving the service is not paying for it, then that is not capitalism and removes all the normal incentives that capitalism works on]

    It sure as hell isn’t capitalism when the government makes it illegal for a lawyer to not advise a client that they are eligible for legal aid. And the government expanded the scheme. But of course it is all the lawyers fault? The reality is that successive governments have made legal aid pretty much the only way to do criminal law, have successively beaten down the cost (as a monopoly provider) and are now reaping the rewards of 20 years of compulsion and underfunding.

    Choice does not remove the incentives either. Punter has lawyer who does good job for them so they go back to that lawyer. Now that punter loses the benefit of being able to instruct “their” lawyer and their lawyer loses the usual benefit of doing a good job – getting a good reputation, building a client base and getting repeat business.

    The choice system was promoted a number of years ago by LSA to improve quality. Apparently the strict rotation is the same reasoning which is bloody stupid. Rather than actually doing quality assurance they are removing choice from the clients (who tend to be rather shrewd as to who they want to defend them) and saying you get who and what you are given and tough shit how that helps you or your case. So in short quality provider with good client base may have their income cut by around half but useless tit who no one goes near has their income doubled. Awesome result all around.

    A guy fawkes notes, in between prejdudice and vitriol, the chap quoted does not have a great reputation. He is generally regarded as an embarrassment to the profession but typically LSA spend millions changing the system for everyone instead of dealing with individuals.

    Although it seems this blog is doing the same – promote outrage of lawyer A with the inferance that applies to all legal aid lawyers. I thought that was the kind of journalism you were against?

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  15. trout (918 comments) says:

    Does it not occur that Clee attracts clients because he does a good job. And that he accumulates a large number of cases because he deals with them efficiently and effectively rather than bleeding the file for fees by dragging the process out. He was not responsible for the availability of Legal Aid, he competes with other lawyers for the work. Sure he is paid a lot but he works the hours and employs assistants; I detect a fair amount of jealousy; particularly from other lawyers. The Bazely report was set up to whitewash the Legal Aid scam and find scapegoats; at no stage were LA clients interviewed to assess whether they were satisfied with the service they were receiving. And then there is the assumption by Bazely (and this current judge) that no lawyer can cover this many cases and provide a good service – perhaps Clee shows up the snails pace that the rest of the system travels at.

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  16. MT_Tinman (3,043 comments) says:

    I fail to see the problem here.

    No one was forced to use Mr Clee, there is no mention of complaints and Mr Clee, it appears, is happy to do the hard work and earn his money.

    Isn’t capitalism allowed in legal practices?

    [DPF: It's not capitalism when the taxpayer pays. When the person receiving the service is not paying for it, then that is not capitalism and removes all the normal incentives that capitalism works on]

    Yes DPF it is capitalism.

    Mr Clee is not a beneficiary and, although they are tax-payer funded, his clients have chosen him to work for them.

    In fact who is paying the bill has no relevance here.

    Mr Clee is working for his clients in the same way Fletchers have the contract to rebuild Christchurch.

    Are you claiming Fletchers are doing something wrong?

    Many, many businesses, including mine, work for the government and are paid with money initially stolen from the taxpayer.

    Like me ( admittedly I’m speculating here) those other businesses will maximise that business if only because more often than not the government pays their bills, often on time.

    Mr Clee, based on your post, is doing nothing more.

    Capitalism at work.

    Great ain’t it?

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  17. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Actually, trout, we all know the odd criminal lawyer who isn’t that good but appears to attract a greater than normal amount of clients. There aren’t many, but we scratch our heads over the ones that there are.

    I have no doubt that Mr Clee will work hard, but there is no way he is a ‘top gun’ lawyer if he is only four years out. His workload will be almost entirely from a combination of the area he works in and the advertising he seems to be doing (having looked at his website).

    Just so everyone knows, though, a legal aid ‘case’ includes a plea in mitigation for a summary sentencing, not just summary or jury trials. That means that a case can be received one day and then finished the next. It is not uncommon for a lawyer to dispose of three or four ‘cases’ in a morning. There is nothing wrong with that. What is astonishing here is the sheer volume, and that with one so new to the bar.

    Being a criminal lawyer is a long term job, where you do not become truly good until you have passed 10 years, if not 20 years, of practice. Four years means you are still just learning.

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  18. Cactus Kate (549 comments) says:

    [DPF: It's not capitalism when the taxpayer pays. When the person receiving the service is not paying for it, then that is not capitalism and removes all the normal incentives that capitalism works on]

    Hmmm….large call made there given how government props up many NZ businesses and industry.

    The issue isn’t with Tudor Clee, who for all we know is a hard-working young chap making the best of a silly system. The problem is with a system that forks out $ in the first place. If Clee didn’t take it, the money would just have gone to a bleeding heart faux-whino such as Deborah Manning.

    The real question should be asked of Clee, is his work up to scratch and has anyone complained about his ability? Nothing in the article suggested that. In fact the opposite given he is getting referrals from crims to their mates. I’m sure he will be Chris Comeskey’s replacement for Auckland’s leading gang affiliates, that is if he isn’t already.

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  19. Dirty Rat (504 comments) says:

    [DPF: It's not capitalism when the taxpayer pays. When the person receiving the service is not paying for it, then that is not capitalism and removes all the normal incentives that capitalism works on]

    God it must suck in your world when a taxpayer has to fund a nurse to look after a person in hospital.

    Next you’ll be having a crack over MP’s and those evil Civil Servants, paid by the taxpayer

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  20. Dirty Rat (504 comments) says:

    bTW, You missed the last line of that article, and also this wouldnt be the biggest amount by far

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  21. alex Masterley (1,498 comments) says:

    FES,
    I’ve always worked on the theory that a recently admitted lawyer is generally a cost rather than a benefit until he/she has at least 3-4 years post admission exprience. Even then they have a marginal economic benefit to a practice.

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  22. Camryn (551 comments) says:

    I agree with the posters that are pointing out that his practice was capitalism at work. It’s not where the money comes from that defines the line, it’s the freedom of choice in how it’s spent. Clee was clearly responding well to market forces. If the government was concerned with the quality of his work (odd, since his customers were clearly happy enough) then it should’ve focused on a direct response to that rather than just abolishing choice from the entire system and effectively removing any incentives to be a good legal aid lawyer.

    Disclosure: I do know him from university. He is Canadian but has been here a long time. No need for calls for him to “go home”. He is also the fashion designer. I can’t understand the backlash, here on Kiwiblog, against someone trying to be an entrepreneurial capitalist. If he doesn’t provide good products and services, he won’t succeed. No need to appoint yourselves judges of whether his poppy has grown “unjustly high”.

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  23. jcuknz (704 comments) says:

    It seems to me that rotation is precisely a variation of what you are critisising with teachers and national standards.

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  24. ummmm (62 comments) says:

    Alex Masterley: “I’ve always worked on the theory that a recently admitted lawyer is generally a cost rather than a benefit until he/she has at least 3-4 years post admission exprience. Even then they have a marginal economic benefit to a practice.”

    The reality is that criminal law has always been the landing point for average law students peppered with the odd brilliant one who quickly rises upwards in a sea of mediocrity. Most category 1 7 2 work really only needs mediocre lawyers however. Most don’t improve much even after the 3 to 4 year experience, but the good ones will become good in far faster order.

    I am not sure about Clee though as the real test of a lawyer is how much private work they pull in. In reality there are only about five lawyers in Auckland that you could really trust to known what they are doing in all weather and feel vaguely safe in giving them your money.

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  25. BlairM (2,304 comments) says:

    Tudor is a real character. I knew him at Uni, and he was rather notorious back then for the size of his ego and the outlandishness of some of his deeds. He even had his own 0800 number as a personal contact number!

    I have no problem with him earning this sort of money, as I think everyone rich or poor has a right to representation, and a right to choose who represents them. Carboot lawyers are an excellent development and it is no wonder that the establishment hates them and wants them shut down.

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  26. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Alex, I agree with your sentiment entirely.

    Ummm, I don’t agree with yours. Despite the fact that the real money in the legal profession is to be made in commercial law, some of us don’t want to practice in it, nor have we ever wanted to practice in that field. I dispute entirely your assertion that criminal law is the landing point for average law students. Historically, criminal law has been part of the expectation of the young lawyer in general practice up and down the country. Not their expectation, necessarily, but their law firm’s expectation. Why? Because the partner would usually want to be doing something a bit more remunerative. That is because the very low legal aid rates have been driving experienced lawyers out of doing criminal law for almost 30 years now. Auckland might be a little different, but for the most part you are wrong.

    While category 1 work can be done by many average lawyers (I won’t use the term mediocre in this context, as it is unfair to the majority of those who are general practice lawyers and don’t go above PC1 in the criminal part of their practice), PC2 work is jury trial work and mediocre lawyers are quickly found out and go nowhere. Indeed, it is impossible to get onto PC2 in less than 3 years, so your assertion is already flawed. The fact is that, outside of Auckland, most lawyers do not advance quickly through the ranks. The speed of Mr Clee’s practice growth could only be achieved in South Auckland. I would hazard a guess that the majority of his work is in fact guilty pleas, which is where he could achieve such a high case load, although if he works such long hours then I will allow that there will obviously be some summary trial work in there as well.

    I think that your comments are incredibly demeaning of those of us who practice in criminal law. This concept that criminal lawyers are mediocre lawyers who couldn’t get jobs anywhere else is a fiction that has its origin in the United States, where it in fact has some truth- because defence lawyers are paid so poorly in that Country that nobody in their right mind wants to do it. The truth is that grades are no indicator of how good a criminal lawyer you will be. Being in a courtroom and properly representing your client takes a lot more than book learning, and some very smart lawyers are absolute rubbish in Court.

    For what it is worth, I never intended to practice criminal law, I got into it by accident. I now regard that as a fortuitous accident because I very much enjoy all elements of being a criminal lawyer. It is in no way a job for the mediocre, in fact it is a difficult, stressful and demanding part of the profession to be in. Just because we don’t earn the high pay of our commercial peers means that, for some reason, we earn their disdain. That just shows that they know nothing about what we do. The day that criminal lawyers, either prosecutors or defence lawyers, are all mediocre is the day the whole country should become truly concerned at the state of the justice system.

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  27. F E Smith (3,314 comments) says:

    Oh, and I agree with the general sentiment that David is wrong when he says this is not capitalism. My concerns are not about Mr Clee’s earnings, but the speed at which his practice has grown given his inexperience. I defend entirely his right to work within the rules of a system that allows him to do so.

    David, this is capitalism, pure and simple. Mr Clee is a private contractor to a government agency, he is not an employee of the government and is therefore not a civil servant any more than Fulton Hogan is for accepting roading contracts from Transit NZ or Warren & Mahoney is for obtaining a contract to design that monstrosity of a Supreme Court building.

    The fact is that it is vital that NZ have an independent defence bar, something that Mr Power seems to want to restrict. When the Government investigates, prosecutes and defends accused persons, then there must be questions asked about the independence of the justice system, even if only for propriety’s sake.

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  28. trout (918 comments) says:

    Tudor Clee is no different from your local GP; both are paid by the Government to provide a service to those who cannot afford market rates. The difference now is that the less fortunate may be able to choose their (Govt. paid) GP but will not be able to choose the LA lawyer to represents them.

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  29. sweetd (125 comments) says:

    the penguin is a hypocrite
    Posted by Trevor Mallard on November 15th, 2010
    Kiwiblog features a lawyer who has been ripping off the system – fair enough.

    But Farrar goes on to say:-

    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.

    Is this the same David Farrar who earns most of his income direct from the taxpayer for polling?

    I think being a public servant – even employed on contract- is an honourable profession and think that Farrar needs to recognise who is being taxed in order to support his lifestyle.

    Share
    Tags: David Farrar, penguin
    Filed under: nationalNo Comments

    heh heh, pop kettle black Mallard. Come back when you actually earn your income.

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  30. GPT1 (2,103 comments) says:

    Mallard is a cock. Whinges about people being rude to Carter and calls DPF Penguin. I imagine the DPF has bigger things to worry about but it is hypocritcal – Mallard’s job really.

    There is an irony in what David has said and I think he is wrong to suggest his novel approach because successive government policy means that most criminal clients are legally aided (and you have to tell them and you can’t take top ups) but it is hardly hypocritical.

    So according to Mallard he should turn down any polling contracts that might have originated from a taxpayer funded source. I suspect, but don’t know, that most polling is done by private payers (political parties should be doing it as part of their Party processes).

    Mallard’s a prat. At least even when I fundamentally disagree with DPF he takes it like a man instead of banning you.

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  31. dandy (26 comments) says:

    “Tudor Clee is no different from your local GP; both are paid by the Government to provide a service to those who cannot afford market rates. The difference now is that the less fortunate may be able to choose their (Govt. paid) GP but will not be able to choose the LA lawyer to represents them.”

    Trout, that is an interesting comparison. I suppose there are some differences though- the government doesn’t actually cover the whole cost of a consultation with a GP for instance, and with the introduction of the capitation funding model in PHOs by Labour, the fee which is paid to a GP practice for a patient registering in said practice has technically got nothing to do with the number or duration of consultations from the patient to the practice. Similarly the case-mix model which DHBs use for inpatient funding is linked to but not directly proportional to the cost of the patient’s admission. The upshot is that criminal defense and legal aid are required by a small minority of the population in comparison to primary and secondary healthcare services.

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