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NZLS Legal Executive Diploma

The Law Society, through NZLS CLE Ltd, has administered 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 NZLS 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 will offer the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma in 2017 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 2017 through to 30 June 2017. 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:

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

Changes to the Legal Executive qualification

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

One teaching institution Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology (formerly the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic) has announced that it will be offering courses leading to the award of the new New Zealand Diploma in Legal Executive Studies as from the beginning of 2017. Its structure is different from the current NZLS diploma in the number of papers offered and in their content. The Law Society was not consulted on the content.

The placement of the new qualification on the framework as at July 2016 means that the Law Society cannot accept enrolments for the NZLS Diploma past July 2018 and cannot award the NZLS Diploma past July 2020. The practical means whereby the 6 papers (enabling candidates currently enrolled in the NZLS diploma up to pass papers until that close off date) can be offered is currently being explored. There are practical issues to be resolved and nothing is guaranteed past 2017.

If you wish to be kept informed by the Law Society of what is happening with the NZLS Diploma, please email, put “keeping me informed” in the subject line and in the body of the email record your name, postal address and mobile number (See the Law Society's privacy policy). We can then send you updates directly as developments proceed.

Last updated on the 8th February 2017