Lawyers in New Zealand have been practising law for an average of 18 years since being admitted to the bar, according to information from the New Zealand Law Society.
The Law Society says there were 11,434 New Zealand-based lawyers with a current practising certificate at 8 January 2013. A further 455 lawyers with Law Society-issued practising certificates are working overseas.
The changing makeup of New Zealand’s legal profession is shown when time in legal practice is calculated by gender. At present 55.0% of New Zealand-based lawyers are male, and the average male lawyer has been in practice for 22.2 years. The average female lawyer has been in practice for 12.9 years.
Currently over 60% of lawyers admitted to the bar each year are female, with new female lawyers outnumbering new male lawyers for the first time in 1993. Of the 2283 lawyers who have been in practice for five years or less, 60.2% are female.
At the other end of the spectrum, New Zealand has 124 practising lawyers who were admitted to the bar over 50 years ago. All but one of these is male.
Lawyers in sole practice are most experienced. New Zealand has 1087 sole practitioners (9.5% of all lawyers), who have spent an average of 29.3 years in practice. Lawyers who are partners or directors of law firms make up 21.9% of all lawyers and have spent an average of 25.3 years in practice.
On a geographical basis, lawyers practising in Wanganui have spent the longest average time in practice. Wanganui’s 48 lawyers have spent an average of 25.5 years in practice, followed by Taupo (23.5 years) and Napier 22.7 years.
In contrast, Auckland’s 4912 lawyers (43% of all New Zealand lawyers) have an average of 17.2 years in practice. Hamilton (16.1 years), Wellington (16.3 years), Rangiora (16.5 years) and Whakatane (16.6 years) are also well below the national average of 18.0 years in practice.