Ethical Challenges for Criminal Lawyers

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Long title: 
Professional and Ethical Challenges for Criminal Lawyers in the Changing Environment of Legal Representation: A New Zealand Perspective
Author(s): 
Prasad, Marnie and Russell, Mary-Rose
Author(s)' contact information: 
Auchland University of Technology, New Zealand
Conference title: 
International Legal Ethics Conference VI
Conference location: 
City University London
Country: 
New Zealand
Year: 
2014

Just as the courts depend on lawyers in the administration of justice, the public also depends on them to provide access to justice. Given the monopolistic position of the legal profession, this social role is fundamental. In the words of one judge, what marks out a profession is “the subordination of personal aims and ambitions to the services of a particular discipline and the promotion of its function in the community”.
Access to justice may be threatened by fiscally-driven regulatory change, and the ideal of professionalism strained. Stakeholders in New Zealand’s criminal justice system have been confronted in recent times with significant restructuring in the delivery of legal services, as successive governments have faced the conflicting aims of balancing budgets and maintaining the protection of citizens’ rights.
This paper discusses the changing environment of legal representation and access to criminal justice in New Zealand, especially for those who are confronted with socio-economic barriers to legal services. It considers the professional and ethical challenges criminal lawyers face in the shifting criminal justice landscape and raises questions about the cost of criminal legal services, legally-aided representation, professionalism and the ideal of public service, and the place of pro bono work.

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