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N E W Z E A L A N D L AW S O C I E T Y

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Legal Community Counselling Service trial begins The Law Society has begun a nine-month trial of a free and confidential professional counselling service. This is available to anyone in a legal workplace – lawyers and non-lawyers. In an email to lawyers on 17 May, Law Society President Tiana Epati said the service is an important addition to the support and assistance the Law Society provides to members of the legal community. “Law is an area where there can be high levels of stress that can lead to a raft of mental health and wellbeing issues. Finding support and advice can be difficult, particularly as many of our legal workplaces have small numbers of staff. We are committed to finding effective ways to support healthy, safe, respectful and inclusive legal workplaces,” she said. The Law Society has signed an agreement with Vitae, one of New Zealand’s most experienced providers of workplace wellbeing services. Vitae is an incorporated society and a registered charity. It has been providing counselling services since 1965, has over 400 support specialists and more than 500 organisations as clients. Its wellbeing services are available to over 130,000 employees and 30,000 tertiary students. Anyone who works in a legal workplace can contact Vitae if they want to access the Legal Community Counselling Service. When contacting Vitae members of the legal community should mention that they are accessing the Legal Community Counselling Service. 8

The service is available every day of the year and every hour of the day. There are three ways in which it can be accessed: • Free call 0508 664 981. • Fill out the online referral form on the Vitae website at www. vitae.co.nz. • Download the Vitae NZ app from the App store or Google Play. Anyone who contacts Vitae will be able to have up to three free confidential sessions with an appropriate counselling professional of their choice. The first two sessions are on a self-referral basis. Vitae is able to recommend, on an anonymous basis, that the Law Society funds a third session if this is needed. No individual information will be provided by Vitae to the Law Society when recommending a third session. Information and details of the service are also available on the Law Society’s website. All contact will be between the person seeking assistance and Vitae. No personal details of those accessing this service will be provided to the Law Society. As this is a trial and we need to see how the service is being used and by whom, statistical information will be collected by Vitae and passed on to the Law Society in an anonymous, aggregated form. The Legal Community Counselling Service is for use by everyone in legal workplaces. The Law Society is communicating with organisations and groups which represent non-lawyers, but all lawyers are urged to ensure others in the workplace are advised of the service. ▪

New Zealand relationship property survey 2019 The Law Society’s Family Law Section is again partnering with business advisory firm Grant Thornton New Zealand to release a 2019 Relationship Property Report. The objective is to create a better understanding of the key practice, legal and financial issues in relationship property matters which lawyers and their clients face. This years’ survey opens in early June and will be available to all lawyers who practise in the area of relationship property. A link to the survey will be available via the Family Law and Property Law Section email bulletins, LawPoints and Law Society branch newsletters. The first survey in 2017 was completed by nearly 400 lawyers. The survey results (see LawTalk 913, December 2017, p.23-25) provided a useful insight into relationship property practice as well as a snapshot of the clients who engage the services of a lawyer to either assist in the resolution of relationship property disputes or enter into a section 21 agreement prior, during or after separation. As well as building on the responses received in the 2017 survey, a particular focus of the survey this year will be: • Timely resolution of relationship property cases; • Proposals from the Law Commission’s review of relationship property legislation; • The unequal sharing of relationship property, including section 15 issues; • The use of professionals in relationship property matters. All lawyers who practise in this area are encouraged to contribute their views for the 2019 report. ▪

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LawTalk 929