New Zealand Law Society - Practice Guidelines

Practice Guidelines

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The New Zealand Law Society’s website contains a wide variety of information and guidance which is aimed at assisting with lawyers’ understanding of the regulations and requirements for legal practice. A selection of these are outlined below. Updates and new additions are regularly advised through LawPoints. These guides may be easily viewed or downloaded. We have included the website address. The Law Society website ( also has a powerful and effective search engine and any of the guides below can be located by typing the title into the search box and hitting “search”.

General guidance

Frequently asked questions about the complaints process
Receiving a complaint from a client can be a stressful and worrying experience. This guide answers some of the most common questions lawyers have posed about the complaints process – what happens, and what courses of action they can take.

Ownership and retention of records on termination of retainer
This is a comprehensive legal opinion by barrister Andrew Beck on the law and requirements. Its objective is to provide guidelines, with discussion of the legal basis underlying those guidelines.

Practice Briefings

The Practice Briefings series aims to provide guidance and information on best practices. Titles are updated regularly and the date is shown at the end. All titles in the series can be accessed from

Addressing members of the judiciary
As advocates, it is important that lawyers observe the correct forms of address in their dealings with members of the judiciary.

Certification under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009
Lawyers are not yet reporting entities but are asked to certify documentation by the customers of reporting entities such as banks. Information is provided on the wording which lawyers may use when certifying such documentation.

Choosing trust account and practice management software
General guidance for lawyers considering office software solutions, with the matters which should be considered before investments or decisions are made.

Closing down or selling a law firm
There are a number of regulatory and procedural requirements if a lawyer decides to close down or sell a law firm.

Cloud computing guidelines for lawyers
Legal practices are increasingly using cloud storage and this aims to give guidance on best practices for moving to the cloud, while maintaining lawyers’ professional obligations.

Correctly addressing parties of Asian descent
How some Asian (particularly Chinese) names should be presented and used, with a recommendation that lawyers clearly ascertain from their clients how they prefer to be named.

Counsel moving admission of barristers and solicitors to the High Court
Advice and information for lawyers who want to move an application for admission to the High Court, including when a current practising certificate is not held.

Email scams which target lawyers
Some of the most commonly encountered lawyer email scams in New Zealand, plus some tests for detecting them.

FATCA and New Zealand law firms
The FATCA agreement between New Zealand and the United States has implications for the way New Zealand law firms with trust accounts conduct their practice.

Financial advisers legislation – implications for lawyers
Aimed at assisting lawyers with an understanding of the practical application of the 2008 Financial Advisers legislation.

Getting started with Twitter
This is based on the New Zealand Law Society’s experience in setting up and operating a Twitter account.

Guidance to lawyers considering acting under a limited retainer
Good practice for lawyers undertaking limited retainers (known as “unbundled” legal services).

Keeping personal details on the electoral roll confidential
For lawyers with clients who have genuine reasons for requiring their details to be kept off the electoral roll.

Offering legal services on the internet
The requirements under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 and associated regulations for providers of online legal services.

Privacy communications when communicating with third parties
Lawyers have obligations under both the Conduct and Client Care Rules and the Privacy Act 1993 to protect clients’ personal information.

Property transactions with potential methamphetamine contamination
Through a well-informed lawyer, clients can avoid costly mistakes in purchasing a property contaminated by this most dangerous of drugs.

Protecting clients’ personal information
Guidance on best practices for storing personal information. Lawyers are required to protect and hold in strict confidence all information concerning a client which is acquired in the course of the professional relationship.

Running an effective internal complaints process
Best practice information for lawyers on responding to complaints and establishing an effective system for complaint investigation and resolution.

Seeking employment as a lawyer
Advice and information on best practices for seeking employment as a provider of legal services, with a focus on first-time job seekers.

Working as a law firm consultant
Becoming a consultant usually involves a change in employment status and raises some professional regulatory issues.

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