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NZLS Legal Executive Diploma

The Law Society, through NZLS CLE Ltd, administers a programme of study for people wanting to work as a legal executive. A legal executive is a person who works as a trained assistant to a lawyer in a legal or quasi-legal environment.

The work covers a wide range of activities including searching public registers, preparing and filing documents, preparing estates, sale and purchase of real estate or a business, and debt recovery. A legal executive may interview clients on behalf of a lawyer but does not appear in court. It is not compulsory for a legal executive to have completed the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma to work in this capacity, but it is preferred by most employers or potential employers.

The emphasis of the Diploma is to teach the practical skills required by a legal executive and it is not of the academic nature of a law degree. It is recommended (but not compulsory) that students undertaking the Diploma be employed in a legal environment. This enables students to gain practical experience as well as access to resources and people who can assist with their studies.


A major aspect of the Diploma is the compulsory drafting component in each of the four advanced papers. The programme comprises six subjects:

  • Introduction to the Legal System
  • Introduction to Law Office Practice
  • Property Law and Practice
  • Business Law and Practice
  • Estates Law and Practice
  • Litigation Law and Practice

Teaching institutes

These papers are usually studied on a part-time basis but some of the teaching institutes offer the course as full-time study, enabling a student to complete all six papers in one year if they wish. The teaching institutes which currently offer the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma are:


Passes in all six subjects, generally by way of national examinations, are required before a student is recognised as having completed the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma. (In some cases, students may be eligible for an exemption from either of the two introductory papers.) The Law Society conducts the annual examinations in late October each year over a period of three days at main centre venues throughout the country and overseas (by arrangement).

For further information regarding enrolment, please contact the National Coordinator. Examination enrolment will open early May 2016 through to 30 June 2016. Late enrolments will incur a penalty fee.

Only those students registered with the Law Society may enrol for the examinations. 

Download the student registration form.  

Successful completion of the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma entitles holders to join the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives.

Graduating students

Candidates who have successfully completed their final paper(s) last year will receive a letter of confirmation of completion from the NZ Law Society in late January. 

If you do not receive this letter please contact the National Coordinator as it may affect your graduation if the records do not correctly record you as a graduate. Information relating to graduation ceremonies will be posted to graduates later in the year.


The Law Society does not impose prior educational requirements for entry but some of the teaching providers may do so. In all cases a high standard of literacy is essential. It is recommended that students should have achieved 14 credits at NCEA Level 2 English (or achieved grade 5 or better in 6th form English) in order to successfully complete the Diploma.


For further information about the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma, including an outline of the current prescription, please contact the National Coordinator at the New Zealand Law Society:

Tereza Machkova
Phone: +64 4 463 2987
Fax: +64 4 463 2983
PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145, New Zealand
DX SP20202

Proposed changes

The New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) has commissioned a review of qualifications on the NZ Qualifications Framework (the Framework). The NZLS Legal Executive Diploma has been included in that process. A new diploma, The New Zealand Diploma in Legal Executive Studies will be placed on the Framework. The NZLS has comments on the content coverage of this diploma.

Last updated on the 11th May 2016