All practising lawyers in New Zealand pay a practising fee and levies to the New Zealand Law Society, which funds the regulatory activities for the Law Society.
Under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006, funding received from practising certificate fees can only be spent on regulatory activities. The practising fee is $1,430 for the 2023/24 year.
Under current legislation, all complaints received by the Lawyers Complaints Service must go to an independent Standards Committee for processing. The Lawyers Complaints Service currently receives around 1200 complaints per year.
Funding for complaints covers a range of activities from overseeing and investigating complaints, to disciplinary matters.
The Law Society is required to maintain a register of all lawyers who hold practising certificates – currently over 16,000 lawyers. Should a lawyer wish to practise on their own account ie take direct responsibility for advising clients, then they must receive approval to do so. Some applications will be considered by a Practice Approval Committee.
The Legal team work to support the Professional Standards (Regulatory) department. This work includes prosecutions and litigation.
The Law Society makes regular submissions on draft legislation with the aim of being an objective and neutral contributor to better quality law. So far in 2022/23 the Law Reform Committees made submissions on 27 bills and 75 submissions overall including government consultations.
The Law Society provides staffed research library services in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch as well as 44 kiosks for online access.
Operational costs include governance and administrative functions, IT and Communications support, and other corporate services and projects as well as broader regulatory functions.
Other fees and levies
The profession is also levied to contribute to the costs of operating the New Zealand Council of Legal Education and the Legal Complaints Review Officer. The LCRO’s role is to review decisions of Standards Committees.
Those practising on their own account fund the costs of the Law Society Inspectorate. If they operate a trust account, they must contribute to the Fidelity Fund.
* The graphic and information above does not cover any membership services or branch activities that the New Zealand Law Society conducts as practising certificate fees can only be spent on regulatory activities.
*Figures used to generate the percentages are based on the 23/24 financial year.