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Starting practice as a barrister

Practice by a barrister on own account (barrister sole) is governed by s30(1)(a) of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (LCA) and R12 of the LCA (Lawyers: Practice Rules) Regulations 2008 and the LCA (Lawyers: Practice Rules) Amendment Regulations 2010.

The Law Society must be satisfied that a lawyer wishing to practise on his or her own account as a barrister sole is a suitable person to do so, having regard to:

  • the lawyer’s legal experience; and
  • the fields of law in which the lawyer intends to practise; and
  • any other matters the Law Society considers are relevant.

Applications to practise on your own account as a barrister

To apply to practise on your own account you must:

  • ensure you meet the criteria
  • fill in the application form
  • pay $250 (including GST) with your application
  • request referee reports from your referees
  • provide a business plan
  • send the completed form and payment to your nearest Law Society branch office.

The process does take some time, so your application should be lodged as soon as you have a commencement date. If your application is urgent please specify this at the beginning so that we can let you know the likely time frame.

Special Circumstances Experience

If you do not meet the “required minimum amount of recent legal experience” in New Zealand criterion in regulation 12(3) of the Practice Rules, you may apply to be considered under regulation 12A of the Practice Rules – special circumstances.  Lawyers who have taken a break from practising law in New Zealand to practise in an overseas jurisdiction, or to have parental leave, may apply under special circumstances. Each application is considered on its merits.

Applications for approval under regulation 12A of the Practice Rules will be referred to the Practice Approval Committee for a decision. Therefore, please allow more time for these applications.

Advertising of name

Your name will be advertised on the Law Society website, requesting comments regarding your suitability to practise on your own account. 

Interview

When your application is complete and the specified time has lapsed from advertising, an interview with a local Law Society branch representative panel will be organised for you to attend.

The interview may cover such topics as running a practice, financial regulations, and the rules of conduct and client care. Interviews last approximately one hour.

Please contact a member of Law Society staff if you would like further information on what material you may wish to look at in preparation for your interview.

Next Step

After processing your application, the branch will make a recommendation to the national office in each case. A recommendation from the interviewers will accompany the application.

Final approval, in most cases, will be granted administratively by the Law Society. 

Practice Approval Committee

If any issues arise in relation to your application or it is not straightforward it will be referred to a Practice Approval Committee (PAC). If referred to PAC, that Committee may make its own further enquiries. You will be advised if your application is referred to the PAC and the Secretary of that Committee will advise you of the process.

Matters that may require a referral to the PAC include the following:

  • lack of adequate references in the area of law in which you intend to practise
  • all applications made under "special circumstances" (lack of required length of recent legal experience in New Zealand)
  • an unsatisfactory interview
  • a significant complaints/disciplinary history
  • bankruptcy
  • significant health issues

If your application is declined, you may apply directly to the High Court for leave to practice on own account.

If you would like further information about the PAC and its processes, please feel free to contact the Secretary, PAC via registry@lawsociety.org.nz.

Last updated on the 7th March 2018