New Zealand Law Society - Prerequisites and criteria

Prerequisites and criteria

Stepping Up

People who intend to be a partner in law firm, or a director of an incorporated law firm, or a sole practitioner (whether as a barrister and solicitor in sole practice or as a barrister sole), must complete a Stepping Up course (previously called Flying Start). A lawyer who completes a Stepping Up course can allow no more than two years to elapse before they commence practice on own account.

Trust Account Supervisor training programme (TAS)

If you intend to be a sole practitioner with a trust account, or the trust account partner of a firm, you will need to complete this programme. Please contact the NZLS CLE for further information about the training course.

If you previously passed the TAS assessment you will need to do a refresher course if:

  • more than three years have lapsed, and you have never been appointed TAS of a firm
  • it has been more than 10 years since you held the position of TAS of a firm

Exceptions to s30

Despite the provisions of s30, you may practise on own account, if:

  • immediately before the commencement of s30 of the LCA you would have been entitled to do so under the Law Practitioners Act 1982
  • any time previously, (whether before or after the commencement of s30 LCA) but within the last 10 years, you have lawfully practised on own account
  • you satisfy the Society that you are entitled to practise as a lawyer, in one or more Australian jurisdictions, in a way that is equivalent to practising on own account in New Zealand as a barrister and solicitor, or as a barrister (r15 of the Practice Rules).


You must have three years’ (full time) legal experience in New Zealand, during the five years immediately before commencing practice on own account. For relevant legal experience refer r3 of the Practice Rules 2008

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, please outline the reasons why you think that your application should be approved under this regulation. Each application is considered on its merits.

Please note that a lawyer who completes a Stepping Up course can allow no more than two years to elapse before they commence practice on own account.

Mode of practice

You must state how you intend to practise on own account (for instance, in sole practice, as a partner in a law firm, or otherwise) and a business plan.

Areas of law

You must state the areas of law in which you intend to practise, with supporting information on your competency to do so, including at least two references in support, for each area of practise.