Law Society investigating complaint that lawyer charged migrant worker $26k to find job

The Law Society is investigating a complaint that an Auckland lawyer charged a migrant worker $26,000 for finding him a job in New Zealand.

In yet another case connected to the controversial Accredited Employer Work Visa, documents show the migrant was required to pay $250 every Friday for two years.

He sought a slice of the Kiwi life - instead, he's facing financial misery.

"It's too hard to pay that money, that much money," the migrant told Newshub.

His employer engaged Auckland's Kenton Chambers Lawyers to help him find a chef.

But after the migrant started work, he revealed Kenton had charged him $26,000 as a fee for the job match.

His livid employer says that would leave his employee in dire straits financially.

"He will be left with about $350 to look after his family, he's got a young family, he's got a wife and a child," his employer told Newshub.

That's because the invoice reveals the $26,000 is to be paid in weekly $250 payments for two years, plus a $50 late fee.

An email chain shows Kenton Chambers Lawyers offering to reduce its fee to $16,400, but only if payment is made as a lump sum.

Newshub understands he did sign a Terms of Engagement letter but did not expect a $26,000 fee.

"I saw your stories about immigrant exploitation - migrant exploitation - and I thought this is, actually, migrant exploitation at a very high level as well," the employer said.

Newshub made numerous attempts to contact the law firm's principal, Ken Oh, over email, phone and in person.

He later responded via email, saying because the matter is before the Law Society it would be inappropriate to comment.

In an earlier email to the complainant, Oh offered to chat with him to explain "confusion or concern".

He also said: "I can confidently say that I uphold my legal practice with integrity and honesty and the same applies to me servicing my client."

Both Immigration New Zealand and the Law Society refused to comment on specifics. But Immigration NZ told Newshub employers, or agents are prohibited from seeking any premium for the employment of any person. Legislation also states legal fees must be fair and reasonable.

Lawyer Alistair McClymont told Newshub a number of factors feed into such fees - case difficulty and success, as well as specialist expertise needed.

"But generally with an accredited employer work visa, if there's nothing particularly complicated about it, it's pretty sort of standard work. It's probably a couple of hours work max, and you're likely to see fees in the ranges of $1000 to $3000," he said.

The Law Society is set to consider the complaint, but whatever the outcome it's a rough start to Kiwi life.