If you apply for a practising certificate as a barrister and:
...you will need to meet experience requirements.
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. This came into force as at 1 July 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:
Applications to practise on your own account are initially processed by Law Society branch offices. Send the completed application form, original referee form/s, and the payment to your nearest branch office. A levy of $250, including GST, is payable. The process does take some time so should be lodged as soon as possible following your completion of Stepping Up. If your application is urgent please specify this at the beginning so that we can let you know the likely time frame.
Your name will be advertised in LawTalk, requesting comments regarding your suitability to practise on your own account.
When the specified time has lapsed for comments, you may be required to be interviewed by a local Law Society branch representative panel. You should be prepared to be interviewed. The interview may cover such topics as running a practice, financial regulations including trust accounting, and the rules of conduct and client care. Expect the interview to last approximately one hour. Please contact a member of Law Society staff if you would like further information on what sources you may wish to look at in preparation for your interview.
After processing your application, the branch will send your application for final approval to the national office. In most cases an initial recommendation from the interviewers will accompany the application.
Final approval, in most cases, will be granted administratively by the Society.
If any issues arise in relation to your application or it is not straightforward it will be referred to the 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 make contact with you to discuss the process. The PAC will then make a recommendation to the Board which will make the final decision.
Matters that may require a referral to the PAC include the following:
If you would like further information about the PAC and its processes, please feel free to contact a staff member of the Law Society.
(a) Experience - Applicants must have had at least three years' (full time) relevant legal experience in New Zealand within the last five years. Legal experience includes:
This may include legal work undertaken pre-admission.
The Law Society may grant an application by a lawyer who does not meet the legal experience requirement if the lawyer satisfies the Law Society that special circumstances apply.
From 1 October 2012 (date subject to Ministerial approval) all lawyers (including barristers) seeking to practise on their own account will be required to complete the applicable units of the ‘Stepping Up’ course.
(b) Fields of law - applicants must state the fields of law in which they wish to practise, with supporting information on their ability to do so, such as practical experience, their academic record showing passes in related subjects, or successful completion of a relevant course (such as the duty solicitor course).
Note 1: Special rules for Australian lawyers are set out in R15 of the Practice Rules.
Note 2: There is also a requirement, under s31(3), that where more than 10 years have elapsed since a lawyer last practised as a barrister on own account, he or she is not entitled to do so again until he or she has received adequate instruction to the satisfaction of the Council in the duties of a barrister. In the interim, applications in this category will be dealt with case by case.
Below are some questions and answers about the requirements.
Do I need to complete the ‘Stepping Up’ course if I am already practising as a barrister on my own account?
No. If you have already practised as a barrister on your own account within 10 years of commencing practise on your own account again, you are able to do so without attending the course.
Can the legal experience I gained prior to admission be considered?
You must demonstrate that you have at least three years' relevant experience in New Zealand within the last five years. This may include legal work undertaken pre-admission.
What is legal experience?
Legal experience includes:
Refer regulation 14 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyer: Practice Rules) Regulations 2008.
Can experience working as an in-house lawyer be taken into account?
Each case will be considered on an individual basis. You will need to provide a copy of your job description and a letter from your supervisor(s) confirming the length of your employment and the nature of the legal work undertaken. Holding a practising certificate as a barrister and solicitor does not necessarily equate to having the required legal experience.