New Zealand Law Society - Applying for a practising certificate

Applying for a practising certificate

To apply for a practising certificate you must:


Applications and related documentation such as references will only be accepted if dated within 3 months of the date the practising certificate is required.

If approximately two years have lapsed since your admission to the High Court of New Zealand or the expiry of your last New Zealand practising certificate (whichever is more recent) you must provide references. Referee requirements are explained in the application form.

Law Society membership

You can choose to be a Law Society member when you apply for your practising certificate.

Membership of the Law Society entitles holders to benefits such as preferential rates for NZLS Continuing Legal Education Seminars and selected branch activities. Law Society members are automatically members of the local branch and are eligible to join a Law Society section.

There is currently no subscription fee for membership of the Law Society.

Law Society sections membership

There are three specialist sections of the Law Society: Family Law Section, Property Law Section and the In-house Lawyers Association of New Zealand (ILANZ). Each section provides its members with resources and membership benefits.

Fees for the Family Law Section, Property Law Section and Premium ILANZ membership are invoiced on joining and as part of the annual practising certificate renewal process. If want to join or find out more about a Law Society section, please visit the appropriate membership page:

Processing applications

On receipt of an application, the Law Society must consider whether there are grounds for declining or refusing to issue a practising certificate. To do this, the Law Society may ask you for further information and make whatever inquiries it considers relevant.

If you have been admitted in New Zealand recently as a barrister and solicitor and your application is straightforward, the Law Society should be able to issue you with a practising certificate within a week of your application.

The processing may take two to three weeks if you have not held a practising certificate since admission or if some time has lapsed between your application to the Law Society and the expiry of your last practising certificate.

Your application may be referred to the Law Society Practice Approval Committee if the Law Society is aware of concerns about you or if you have disclosed information that may reflect on your eligibility to hold a practising certificate.

If this is the case it may take longer to process your application. 

The process may also be delayed if you have not provided all the information needed to process your application. 

Declining an application

The Law Society may decline or refuse to issue a practising certificate if it believes there may be reasonable grounds for doing so. If that is the case, the Law Society will:

  • notify you of its reasons for considering declining or refusing
  • specify a reasonable time for you to respond
  • consider your response
  • either issue or decline to issue a practising certificate.

If you have been refused a practising certificate by the Law Society, you will have a right of appeal to the Disciplinary Tribunal.

For more information, contact the Law Society Registry

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