Common Questions

For Clients

Will it cost me to use Consensus?

No. Consensus is free to use for people and organisations of Aotearoa New Zealand who need legal advice. You only pay your lawyer when they complete their work for you. Great, right?!

How does Consensus make money?

We charge lawyers to register with Consensus and we also separately charge them an administration fee for each proposal of theirs that you accept (which is calculated as a small percentage of the total legal fee and disbursements).

What if my job is for me and for someone else too, such as my whānau (family) or my business partner?

We call these “associated clients”. When you post the job, include the other people or organisations as associated clients and provide their addresses and contact details. This will allow lawyers to check they can act for you and the associated clients.

What if my job involves someone else my organisation or I are in dispute with or want to take action against?

We call these “involved parties”. When you post the job, include the other people or organisations as involved parties and provide their addresses and contact details. This will allow lawyers to check they can act for you (and any associated clients) against the involved parties (by checking that they don’t have any existing conflicts of interest).

Won’t lawyers just increase the amounts they charge me to cover their Consensus costs?

We don’t believe so – not only does this not fit with our values and vision, but the fee charged is deliberately affordable and accessible for lawyers. For your job posting, the lawyers of Consensus are proposing to charge you an amount they feel is fair in accordance with their legal duties, and they are entitled to charge you based on their back-end costs. Lawyers have always paid for marketing, but we’re replacing that and bringing that cost down. The difference with Consensus is that you have choice, which encourages lawyers to offer you their best. Consensus means transparency right from the outset.

Can I register personally and for my business/organisation separately?

Yes. When you register, you will be prompted to confirm whether the registration is for you or for your organisation. If you are registering for an organisation/business, please ensure you register using its correct legal name.

Is there anything wrong with picking the cheapest proposal?

You can choose to work with whoever you like!! But remember, Consensus isn’t about cut-price legal advice. We’re here to ensure lawyers and clients exchange value for value, for fair prices that are clear and certain upfront.

Lawyers with differing levels of experience and expertise will offer different price points – as with anything. We encourage you to review all proposals and to look for the one that best fits with your particular job.

Is Consensus secure?

Consensus engages in a number of leading industry-standard security practices to ensure that information you share with lawyers is maintained securely and confidentially on Consensus. This includes end-to-end encrypted connections, strong application and server-level access controls, regular security monitoring and proactive issue response strategies. If we discover that any information shared via Consensus has been passed on to any third party in an inappropriate way or without consent of the disclosing party, we reserve the right to terminate the relevant users’ registration with Consensus and refer any matters to New Zealand authorities and the New Zealand Law Society. Check out our Ensuring Security page.

What if my job doesn’t seem to fit in any legal category on Consensus?

Get in touch with us and let us know. We will be able to either point you in the right direction or find another solution.

Do I have to use English on Consensus?

We encourage you to converse with lawyers in Te Reo Māori (the Māori language) or any other language you and your selected lawyers prefer via Consensus. You can check which languages a lawyer speaks by checking their profile when they submit a proposal to you.

If I register, will my details be made available to lawyers?

No, not until you post a job, and even then, only lawyers with relevant expertise and who have conducted the necessary conflict checks will be able to review your job and submit proposals to you.

What is a conflict check?

A conflict check is a quick process lawyers must follow when they take new instructions from you, particularly if they have not acted for you before or where there are third parties involved in your job. A lawyer who acts for you today usually can’t turn around and act against you tomorrow. Similarly, if you’re having a disagreement with someone, but the lawyer you approach has already acted for that person, they usually cannot act for you. Consensus provides lawyers with your name and contact details, and those of any associated clients (e.g. your family or your business partner) or any involved parties (e.g. the other party who signed the contract you’re disputing), so that they can undertake any conflict checks required before confirming to Consensus that they can act. Only at this stage will they get access to details about your job.

How do I know the lawyers on Consensus are legitimate?

Lawyers must provide us with copies of up-to-date certificates of registration with the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS), which we check before lawyers get access to any information you post. Current registration with the NZLS is a standard legal requirement across Aotearoa New Zealand for anyone practicing law. Consensus stringently maintains the same standards and expectations of the lawyers using our system.

What happens if I don’t like any of the prices offered by lawyers in the proposals they send me?

You are not obliged to accept proposals. Remember too, that Consensus isn’t about cut-price legal advice. We’re here to ensure lawyers and clients exchange value for value, for fair prices that are clear and certain upfront.

What if I can’t afford to pay for legal advice?

If you simply cannot afford to pay for legal advice or you would like some initial direction, contact your local Community Law Centre or Citizens Advice Bureau. There are also free advice services provided by universities and students associations – jump on Google and check them out.

What happens if I can’t pay a lawyer’s bill?

You should not accept a proposal unless you can pay the legal fee and the disbursements in it. If you accept a proposal and your circumstances change, you will need to talk to your lawyer about how to deal with this.

How can I tell if a lawyer is good or not?

The lawyer’s Consensus profile is a good starting point. It will include information about their expertise, qualifications and experience. It will also specify their Consensus rating. We want to ensure you get as much information as possible before making your decision and accepting a proposal from a lawyer.

What if I think the questions I was asked as I posted my job weren’t enough and I think there is other information that will be relevant to lawyers?

No problem! Feel free to provide all details to the lawyer you think are relevant, regardless of the questions Consensus asks. And feel free to let us know it – you might have picked up on something that will help others.

How old do I have to be to register as a client on Consensus?

At least 18 years old.

Can I put my job on hold? If so, when?

Yes, once at any time for no longer than 2 weeks. If you remove the “on hold” status before the end of the 2 weeks, the job’s status will change back to “in progress”. If the 2 weeks runs out, the job’s status will be automatically cancelled. At this point, the lawyer will have the right to submit a bill via Consensus to you for a portion of the legal fee and disbursements agreed in the proposal (depending on the work they’ve completed).

Can I cancel my job? If so, when?

Yes, at any time. At this point, the lawyer will have the right to submit a bill via Consensus to you for a portion of the legal fee and disbursements agreed in the proposal (depending on the work they’ve completed).

What if the lawyer thinks the job is done, but I don’t agree?

You’ll have the chance to submit a “query” via Consensus, explaining why you consider the job isn’t finished yet. The lawyer will then be required to respond and/or continue working, and you can either confirm when you think the job has been completed or, if you are still not happy, you can submit a complaint via the lawyer’s firm’s complaints process.

What if I become concerned about my lawyer’s performance?

You should submit a query via Consensus. The lawyer will have a chance to respond, and if you are still not satisfied you can either submit a complaint to the lawyer’s firm (which will have its own complaints process) or to the official Lawyers’ Complaints Service. If you do not hear from the lawyer after 2 business days, you may wish to contact the official Lawyers’ Complaints Service. Please note we do not make any guarantees relating to the performance of lawyers on Consensus and we will not responsible for them.

What will the lawyer charge me?

A legal fee (being a fixed fee including GST, if any, for services) and, if relevant, disbursements (being all related costs such as office expenses and registration fees, but excluding any court filing fees or expert witness fees that may be required – these will be charged separately).

Can I rate my lawyer, and give my lawyer feedback?

Yes, once the job is completed you will have the chance to provide a rating and feedback to them. Feedback may be made available by the lawyer on the lawyer’s profile if the lawyer would like it to be made available, but the lawyer does not have to do this. Feedback must not be offensive or contain personal or privileged information.

Can my lawyer rate me?

Yes. This rating will be made available to lawyers who review your jobs.

Can I communicate with my lawyer via Consensus?

Yes, we provide secure instant messaging with lawyers whose proposals you have accepted. You will also be notified via email if a message has been sent to you by a lawyer via Consensus and we notice you’re not chatting live with the lawyer.

Check out our Client Terms and Conditions for more.

Can I find a criminal lawyer on Consensus?

No. Criminal defence is a very specific area of law which will often involve the legal aid system. For more information, visit the New Zealand Ministry of Justice website.

For Lawyers

Can I register with multiple areas of expertise?

Yes. Remember, you can only do work you are experienced in, so please make sure the areas of expertise you select are accurate and only ‘in your wheelhouse’. Anything else is misleading!

What if my area of expertise isn’t listed on Consensus, or it isn’t ready yet?

Let us know and we’ll see what we can do to help you as quickly as possible.

Which jobs will I get access to?

You will only be provided with access to jobs which match your expertise once you have conducted the appropriate conflict check(s).

Does it cost me to use Consensus?

Yes. You will pay Consensus a monthly subscription fee of $99 (plus GST) and you will also pay an administration fee each time one of your proposals is accepted (being 5% plus GST of the legal fee and disbursements you included in the proposal).

What happens if my proposal is not accepted?

You will receive a bid credit on Consensus for each proposal you submit but which is not accepted. Bid credits can be ‘cashed in’ to reduce or negate the administration fee you’ll pay Consensus for a future job you win. So, get submitting!

What if I don’t have a credit card?

You will also be able to use a debit card to make payments to Consensus.

What if I don’t have a current practising certificate?

You must inform us and your profile on Consensus will either be suspended or terminated. Consensus reserves the right to immediately suspend any lawyer’s Consensus profile in the event that it is revealed that s/he does not have a current practicing certificate.

I live overseas, can I still register as a lawyer on Consensus?

No, you must be located in New Zealand to register as a lawyer on Consensus.

Can conveyancers register on Consensus too?

No, only barristers or barristers and solicitors can register to provide services via Consensus to clients.

How do I deal with conflict checks?

You will be provided with the details of the client, any associated clients and any involved parties so that you can conduct the relevant conflict checks before you get access to the job details. You must confirm to Consensus that you have conducted the necessary conflict checks in order to gain access and you will remain responsible for ensuring you can act for each client whose jobs you review and submit proposals for. Get in touch with us if you consider there is or may be a conflict, but you wish to seek the informed consent of the relevant parties to act.

Can I communicate with my client via Consensus?

Yes, we provide secure instant messaging with clients who have accepted your proposals. You will also be notified via email if a message has been sent to you by a client via Consensus and we notice you’re not chatting live with the client.

What will I charge clients via Consensus?

A legal fee (being a fixed fee including GST, if any, for services) and, if relevant, disbursements (being all related costs such as office expenses and registration fees, but excluding any court filing fees or expert witness fees that may be required – these may be charged separately).

Can my clients rate me, and give me feedback?

Yes, once the job is completed clients will have the chance to provide a rating and feedback to you. Feedback may be made available by you on your Consensus profile if you would like it to be made available, but you aren’t required to make it available. Feedback must not be offensive or contain personal or privileged information.

Can I rate clients?

Yes. This rating will be made available to lawyers who review future jobs posted by those clients.

Do I have to submit bills via Consensus?

Yes. Bills must contain narrations, being details of the work you’ve done to complete (or partially complete) a job.

Can a client put a job on hold? If so, when?

Yes, once at any time for no longer than 2 weeks. If the client removes the “on hold” status before the end of the 2 weeks, the job’s status will change back to “in progress”. If the 2 weeks runs out, the job’s status will be automatically cancelled. At this point, you can submit a bill via Consensus to the client for a portion of the legal fee and disbursements agreed in the proposal (depending on the work you’ve completed).

Can the client cancel a job? If so, when?

Yes, at any time. At this point, you can submit a bill via Consensus to the client for a portion of the legal fee and disbursements agreed in the proposal (depending on the work you’ve completed).

What if you think the job is done, but the client doesn’t agree?

The client will have the chance to submit a “query” via Consensus, explaining why they consider the job isn’t finished yet. You’ll then be required to respond and/or continue working, and you can confirm when you think the job has been completed. If the client is still not happy, they may submit a complaint to your firm or the Lawyers’ Complaints Service.

Check out our Lawyer Terms and Conditions for more.

Why can’t I register as a criminal defence lawyer on Consensus?

Criminal defence is a very specific area or law which will often involve the legal aid system. On that basis, criminal law is currently excluded from the expertise available via Consensus.