(Formerly know as the NZLS Legal Executive Course)
The New Zealand Law Society (NZLS), through its wholly-owned subsidiary NZLS CLE Ltd, administers a course of study for people wanting to work as a legal executive. A legal executive (known as a para-legal in some countries) 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 course 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 course comprises six subjects:
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 NZLS conducts the annual examinations in late October each year over a period of three days at main centre venues throughout the country.
The enrolment period for the 2013 examinations will open in May with payment due by 30 June 2013. From 1 July to 31 August a late fee is applicable. Acknowledgement of receipt of enrolment, along with an examination pack and examination entrance slip will be distributed to candidates in late September 2013. For further information regarding enrolment or if you have not received your examination pack by early October, please contact the National Coordinator. If you wish to change your examination venue or subjects enrolled for, you must make these arrangements at least one month prior to the examinations.
Successful completion of the NZLS Legal Executive Diploma entitles holders to join the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives.
Only those students registered with the New Zealand Law Society may enrol for the examinations.
Download the student registration form (PDF).
The NZLS 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:
Phone: +64 4 463 2987
Fax: +64 4 463 2983
PO Box 5041, Lambton Quay, Wellington 6145, New Zealand