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Practice Briefings

A series of practical, downloadable guides for lawyers.

Addressing members of the Judiciary

12 September 2018 (PDF File, 173 KB)

Being able to appear as an advocate for any person before any New Zealand court or tribunal is one of the areas of work expressly reserved for New Zealand lawyers. As advocates, it is obviously important that lawyers observe the correct forms of address in their dealings with members of the judiciary. This Practice Briefing summarises the expected forms of judiciary address, both in the courtroom and in written communications.

AML CFT — Annual Reporting

4 July 2019 (PDF File, 181 KB)

The New Zealand Law Society remains proactive in assisting lawyers in compliance with their obligations under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT). This Practice Briefing provides some practical guidance to assist law firms that are “reporting entities” for AML/CFT purposes in complying with their annual reporting obligations under the AML/CFT Act.

AML CFT — Charging clients for compliance

1 May 2019 (PDF File, 173 KB)

The New Zealand Law Society has received inquiries from lawyers about whether they can charge for undertaking compliance work required under the Anti-money Laundering and Countering of Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT). This Practice Briefing outlines what lawyers will need to consider when considering passing on compliance costs.

Automatic Exchange of Information and Common Reporting Standard (‘AEOI/CRS’)

22 July 2017 (PDF File, 218 KB)

The purpose of this Practice Briefing is to provide a brief introduction to the AEOI/CRS regime and its key concepts. The new regime has significant implications for lawyers, both in terms of their own practices as ‘entities’ captured under CRS, and in their advisory capacity. This briefing highlights areas of relevance for lawyers including the implications for solicitors’ trust accounts.

Awards and Prizes for New Zealand Lawyers

7 February 2018 (PDF File, 215 KB)

Achievement in the New Zealand legal profession is recognised by the award of a number of annual prizes and scholarships. This Practice Briefing lists the best known prizes and scholarships which are awarded in New Zealand annually.

Certification under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009

11 July 2018 (PDF File, 171 KB)

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 ("the Act") requires "reporting entities" to conduct customer due diligence on their customers, their customers' beneficial owners and anyone acting on behalf of their customers. Lawyers are not yet reporting entities. However, they are asked to certify documentation by the customers of reporting entities such as banks, and there is some doubt as to how this should now be carried out. This Practice Briefing provides information on the wording which lawyers may use when certifying such documentation. It has been compiled from legal advice provided to the New Zealand Law Society and is intended to provide guidance in an area where there are no definitive procedures.

Checklist for practices considering opening a trust account

19 January 2018 (PDF File, 197 KB)

This Practice Briefing has been prepared for those law practices intending to open a trust account. It is intended to proved guidance and information on best practices and does not constitute legal advice.

Choosing trust account and practice management software

13 November 2019 (PDF File, 225.8 KB)

Choosing, changing or upgrading your office (trust account and/or practice management) software is a significant investment. This practice briefing is intended to provide general guidance to lawyers considering office software solutions, and lists a number of matters that should be thought about before investments or decisions are made. It is a guide to good practice only, and does not constitute legal advice. As always, a lawyer must use professional judgement before deciding on office software investments, and if in doubt, seek specialist advice from vendors.

Closing down or selling a law firm

19 January 2018 (PDF File, 184 KB)

There are a variety of reasons why a practitioner might cease being in practice, including: retirement, incapacity, wanting a life style or career change, a practitioner has died, partners have agreed to dissolve the partnership, the practice is no longer profitable, the practitioner is bankrupted, imprisoned, suspended or struck off, or they merely no longer want the responsibility of management. There are a number of regulatory and procedural requirements if a practitioner decides to close down or sell a law firm. Because of the number of steps to be taken, doing so will require forward planning.

Cloud Computing guidelines for lawyers

26 June 2017 (PDF File, 222 KB)

Legal practices are increasingly using cloud storage and software systems as an alternative to in-house data storage and IT programmes. This Practice Briefing aims to give Law Society members helpful guidance on best practices for moving to the cloud. It examines how cloud computing can be used while maintaining lawyers' professional obligations.

Compulsion of Client Information and Responding to a Search Warrant

19 April 2017 (PDF File, 189 KB)

The Law Society regularly receives enquiries from lawyers concerned about their obligations to disclose client information under compulsion from the Police or other government agencies. The intention of this Practice Briefing is to provide assistance to lawyers faced with the difficulties arising from a request or formal requirement to disclose client information.

Correctly addressing parties of Asian descent

26 June 2017 (PDF File, 166 KB)

This Practice Briefing explains how some Asian (particularly Chinese) names should be presented and used, and recommends that solicitors and counsel clearly ascertain from their clients how they prefer to be named.

Counsel moving admission to the High Court

14 August 2017 (PDF File, 173 KB)

Over 900 New Zealanders are admitted as barristers and solicitors of the High Court each year. The admission ceremony is a significant event in the life of every new lawyer. While admission is a celebratory occasion, it is also a court proceeding. Often counsel who move admission do not normally appear in court and have become involved because the candidate is a relative or colleague. This Practice Briefing has been prepared by the Law Society to provide advice and information for lawyers who want to move an application for admission to the High Court.

Email scams which target lawyers

25 January 2014 (PDF File, 471.1 KB)

Lawyers are not immune from being targeted by criminals who seek to exploit some of the work practices used by the legal profession. New Zealand lawyers have been sent a number of emails by fraudsters, almost always based outside the country. This Practice Briefing provides information on the most commonlyencountered scams in New Zealand and suggests some tests for detecting them.

FATCA and New Zealand Law Firms

22 April 2015 (PDF File, 480.6 KB)

The FATCA agreement between New Zealand and United States is directed at reducing tax evasion by US taxpayers. New Zealand law firms with trust accounts may possibly be defined as "financial institutions" and could be subject to FATCA provisions. FATCA has implications for the way New Zealand law firms with trust account conduct their practice. Law firms should consider whether the agreement applies to them and what action they will need to take. This Practice Briefing provides information on the regime to assist law firms with assessing their particular position and FATCA obligations.

Financial Advisers legislation – implications for lawyers

14 November 2013 (PDF File, 508.0 KB)

All New Zealand lawyers will need a clear understanding of the 2008 Financial Advisers legislation in their daily practice. The intention of this Practice Briefing is to assist lawyers with their understanding of the practical application of the legislation.

Getting started with Twitter

7 March 2019 (PDF File, 185 KB)

Like all social networking services, Twitter can be used by businesses and organisations, to promote awareness of their presence, to make announcements and to comment on news, and to point clients or others to information which may be of use to them. The information in this Practice Briefing is based on the New Zealand Law Society's experience in setting up and operating a Twitter account.

Guide for lawyers advising overseas persons investing in New Zealand assets

12 September 2018 (PDF File, 177 KB)

Before investment in significant New Zealand business assets, or the acquisition of certain types of New Zealand land, or fishing quota, overseas persons and entities may need consent under the Overseas Investment Act 2005 (Act). This Practice Briefing is intended to assist practitioners to identify whether their clients may need to obtain overseas investment consent before acquiring New Zealand land or business assets.

Guidance for lawyers undertaking pro bono work

19 July 2018 (PDF File, 184KB)

The legal phrase “Pro Bono” comes from the Latin phrase, “Pro bono publico” or “for the public good”. It refers specifically to legal professional services which are provided free of charge. This practice briefing provides guidance for lawyers and law firms about the structuring of pro bono service arrangements. The information contained here is also relevant to lawyers wishing to undertake private work outside their employment.

Guidance to lawyers considering acting under a limited retainer

6 August 2020 (PDF File, 206 KB)

This practice briefing is intended as a guide to good practice for lawyers undertaking limited retainers (also known as "unbundled" legal services). While intended to encourage lawyers to consider offering limited retainers, this briefing is not legal advice. It is hoped lawyers will benefit generally from the guidance contained in this practice briefing, but as always each lawyer must apply her/his own professional judgement in determining how and in what circumstances to offer unbundled legal services.

Guidelines for Suspended Lawyers

27 March 2018 (PDF File, 179 KB)

A suggested course of action if you are aware a suspension order is being sought, steps that need to be taken if a suspension order is made and answers to some common questions.

How to recognise an email scam

14 April 2016 (PDF File, 454 KB)

Lawyers open lots of emails every day. Increasingly, individual fraudsters and networks of scammers are using hoax emails to trick people into sending money, giving away private information, or exposing their home or organisation’s computer network to malicious software and viruses. This Practice Briefing is a guide to help lawyers recognise email scams.

Keeping personal details on the electoral roll confidential

31 July 2019 (PDF File, 167 KB)

Section 82 of the Electoral Act 1993 requires anyone who is qualified to be registered as an elector to register. Details of electors are compiled to create rolls for each electoral district. Section 106 requires the electoral rolls to show the names, residences and occupations of all enrolled electors and under section 110 copies of the rolls must be kept for inspection at the Office of the Registrar of Electors. This Practice Briefing provides information for lawyers with clients who have genuine reasons for requiring their details to be kept off the electoral roll.

Key facts about AEOI/CRS, AML/ CFT and FATCA

31 August 2017 (PDF File, 191 KB)

As signatory to several international initiatives relating to finance and taxation, New Zealand has introduced a number of regulatory and compliance requirements which include measures relating to the supply of legal services. This guide is intended to provide “at a glance” information to lawyers in private practice on three of the most important.

Law associations and groups

6 July 2018 (PDF File, 195 KB)

As a student, a new lawyer or even a practitioner who has spent a long time in practice, you may be unaware of the range of legal societies and organisations that exist to bring together those working in areas of law or those representing particular groups. They provide collegiality and expertise, organise events and often an annual conference.

Law Society Legal Research Facilities

14 December 2017 (PDF File, 195 KB)

The New Zealand Law Society's Library is one of New Zealand's most comprehensive legal information resources. The Library is a private library which is not open to the general public. Library services are provided to members and associate members of the Law Society, the judiciary and Ministry of Justice court staff.

Looking after a client’s bank account

18 May 2017 (PDF File, 162 KB)

Many law firms in New Zealand operate what is known as “controlled bank accounts”. The bank account is under the control of the lawyer. Trust accounts and “controlled accounts” share one thing in common. They are accounts where a lawyer has, in the course of his or her practice, control of money for or on behalf of a client. The Law Society recommends that all lawyers in New Zealand adopt the following good practice in relation to “controlled bank accounts”.

Offering legal services on the internet

25 June 2017 (PDF File, 166 KB)

A growing number of websites offer legal services to New Zealand consumers, ranging from conveyancing to applications for limited drivers' licences. It is not clear that all of them comply with legal requirements imposed on lawyers practising in New Zealand. This Practice Briefing has been prepared by the Law Society to provide information on the requirements under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 and associated regulations which are of particular relevance to providers of online legal services.

Overseas lawyers working in New Zealand

26 June 2017 (PDF File, 170 KB)

The Law Society regularly receives queries about what legal services overseas qualified lawyers can provide in New Zealand and how they can describe themselves. Queries come from overseas lawyers looking to work in New Zealand, firms wanting to hire them and members of the public engaging with overseas qualified lawyers.

Preparing for becoming a reporting entity under the AML/CFT Act

8 June 2017 (PDF File, 1.1 MB)

Lawyers need to undertake three tasks to prepare themselves for becoming “reporting entities” under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (AML/CFT Act). Starting on these three tasks as soon as possible will mean that law firms spread the work over coming months.

Privacy considerations when communicating with third parties

25 June 2017 (PDF File, 166 KB)

Lawyers have obligations under both the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 and the Privacy Act 1993 to protect clients' personal information. Lawyers may also have some obligations in relation to a third party's personal information. This Practice Briefing looks at these and offers some practical steps for managing those obligations.

Property transactions with potential methamphetamine contamination

8 December 2015 (PDF File, 1.3 MB)

As the problem of clandestine methamphetamine laboratories or "P-labs" continues to rise, lawyers and their clients need to be aware of the risks and tell-tale signs to look for at a property. 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

19 June 2014 (PDF File, 477.4 KB)

Developments in technology mean lawyers must have robust and secure procedures to protect their clients' personal information. The Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyers: Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2008 require lawyers to protect and hold in strict confidence all information concerning a client which is acquired in the course of the professional relationship. This Practice Briefing aims to give Law Society members helpful guidance on best practices for storing personal information. It is not intended to be an industry standard, nor does it provide a defence to misconduct or improper professional practice.

Running an effective internal complaints process

6 March 2014 (PDF File, 1.3 MB)

This Practice Briefing aims to provide best practice information for lawyers on responding to complaints and establishing an effective system for complaint investigation and resolution. While it refers to "law firms", it applies to all lawyers in private practice.

Seeking employment as a lawyer

19 January 2018 (PDF File, 184 KB)

This Practice Briefing provides advice and information on best practices for seeking employment as a provider of legal services. The information has been compiled by the New Zealand Law Society and is aimed at first-time job seekers, although the information will also be useful to anyone who is attempting to change employment.

Starting a new law firm

9 March 2017 (PDF File, 436 KB)

Starting any new enterprise can be somewhat daunting. A great deal of planning is needed, and much has to be put in place before your new business can open its doors. There are some "must dos" provided in the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (LCA) and its associated regulations and rules.

Speaking Te Reo Māori in Court

20 October 2016 (PDF File, 454 KB)

As it is an official language of Aotearoa/New Zealand, anyone may speak te reo Māori in court. However, because most New Zealanders are not fluent in te reo, this Practice Briefing provides some recommended practices and requirements related to the use of te reo in Court proceedings.

What to declare when renewing your practising certificate

7 April 2020 (PDF File, 170 KB)

This Practice Briefing provides information on completing the declaration and the matters which a lawyer is required to inform the Law Society about if any have occurred since admission or receipt of the last practising certificate.

Working as a law firm consultant

25 January 2014 (PDF File, 432.3 KB)

Lawyers who choose to work as consultants may have a number of reasons for doing so. Consulting can offer greater flexibility in working and the opportunity to work fewer hours with less administration. It is quite common for partners in law firms to move to the role of consultant as one of the steps towards retirement. Becoming a consultant usually involves a change in employment status and raises some professional regulatory issues. This Practice Briefing has been prepared by the Law Society to provide relevant advice and information on the requirements for lawyers who work as consultants.

Working Remotely

15 February 2018 (PDF File, 196 KB)

Flexible working arrangements have become far more common in the legal profession as in other fields of work, and they can come in many sizes and shapes. Working remotely is one way to work flexibly. This Practice Briefing outlines some of ethical and practical considerations relevant to working remotely as a lawyer. It applies to both lawyers in private practice (employees and sole practitioners) and inhouse lawyers. The objective is to provide practical suggestions and best practice. It does not constitute legal advice.

Last updated on the 6th August 2020