New Zealand Law Society - Application


To apply to practise on your own account as a barrister and solicitor you must:

The process does take some time, so your application should be lodged as soon as you have an intended commencement date. If your application is urgent please specify this at the beginning so that we can let you know the likely time frame.

Applications under Regulation 12A

If you do not meet the “required minimum amount of recent legal experience” in New Zealand criterion in regulation 12(3) of the Practice Rules, you may apply to be considered under regulation 12A of the Practice Rules.

An example of this might be where you have worked part-time; taken a break from practising law in New Zealand; returned to New Zealand after practising in an overseas jurisdiction, or for parental leave. For any application made under regulation 12A, you will need to outline the reasons why you think that your application should be approved under this regulation. Each application is considered on its own particular circumstances.

In some cases, applications for approval under regulation 12A of the Practice Rules may be referred to the Practice Approval Committee (PAC) for a decision. If this is the case, you will be informed before your application is referred and you will need to allow more time for processing.

What are “special circumstances under Regulation 12A

What amounts to “special circumstances” is not defined in the Practice Rules. To determine if the exception under regulation 12A applies:

  • That you are experienced and competent in your intended areas of practice so that you can practice in those areas unsupervised, without risk to consumers; and
  • That your overall circumstances override the New Zealand minimum recent legal experience requirement in regulation 12(3), and therefore under regulation 12A permit you to practise on your own account.

Advertising of name

Your name will be advertised on the Law Society website, requesting comments regarding your suitability to practise on your own account.


When your application is complete and the specified time has lapsed for requesting comments regarding your suitability, an interview with a local Law Society branch representative panel will be organised for you.

The interview may cover such topics as running a practice, financial regulations, and the rules of conduct and client care. Interviews last approximately one hour.

Please contact a member of Law Society staff if you would like further information on what source material you may wish to look at in preparation for your interview.

Next step

After processing your application, the branch will make a recommendation to the national office in each case.  A recommendation from the interviewers will accompany your application.

Final approval, in most cases, is granted administratively by the Law Society.

Practice Approval Committee

If any issues arise in relation to your application or it is not straightforward it may be referred to a Practice Approval Committee (PAC). If referred to PAC, that Committee may make its own further enquiries. You will be advised if your application is referred to the PAC and the Secretary of that Committee will advise you of the process.

Matters that may require a referral to the PAC include the following:

  • lack of adequate references in the area of law in which you intend to practise
  • applications made under regulation 12A (lack of required length of recent legal experience in New Zealand)
  • an unsatisfactory interview
  • a significant complaints/disciplinary history
  • bankruptcy
  • significant health issues

If your application is declined, you may apply to the High Court for leave to practise on own account.

Applications for approval under Reg 12A of the Practice Rules may be referred to the PAC for a decision. You will be informed before your application is referred to PAC. Please allow more time for these applications

If you would like further information about the PAC and its processes, please feel free to contact the Secretary, PAC via

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