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New Zealand lawyer numbers continue to grow

07 March 2019

The number of New Zealand lawyers continues to grow, with over 14,000 lawyers now holding practising certificates issued by the New Zealand Law Society.

The Law Society has released its annual Snapshot of the Profession, providing information on lawyers at 1 February 2019.

It shows that New Zealand has one lawyer for every 365 citizens, and there has been a 24% increase in lawyers since 2011 compared to a 12% increase in New Zealand's population. In 1999 New Zealand had one lawyer for every 470 citizens.

The Law Society says one marked trend has been the continuing change in the gender composition of lawyers.

"At 1 February 2018 the number of New Zealand-based women lawyers was one ahead of the number of men practising. A year later, there were 393 more women," it says.

"However, women made up just 30.9% of partners and directors in multi-lawyer firms in 2018. This had risen to 32.7% in 2019, but was still far from equal. Perhaps encouragingly, the 6% rise in total women lawyers over the year lagged behind the 16% rise in women partners and directors."

A high proportion - 44% - of New Zealand-based lawyers are located in Auckland, with another 18% in Wellington and  9% in Christchurch.

The Law Society says the average age of all lawyers is 42 years and 4 months, with 78% stating they are of New Zealand European ethnicity, 6% Māori ethnicity, 6% Other European and 3% Chinese.

The biggest proportion of lawyers - 58% - work in law firms with more than one lawyer, with another 23.5% working as in-house lawyers, 11.6% as barristers and 5.8% working as sole practitioners.

Last updated on the 7th March 2019