New Zealand Law Society - Criteria



Applicants must have had at least three years' (full time) relevant legal experience in New Zealand within the last five years. This may include legal work undertaken pre-admission. Legal experience includes:

  • legal work in the office of a lawyer in sole practice, a partnership of lawyers, or an incorporated law firm
  • legal work in the office of a barrister sole
  • legal work in a State service
  • legal work in a local authority
  • legal work as an employee of a company or other body
  • work as a member of the academic legal staff at a university, or
  • as an MP.

Refer regulation 3(1) of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act (Lawyer: Practice Rules) Regulations 2008.

The Law Society may grant an application by a lawyer who does not meet the legal experience requirement if the lawyer satisfies the Law Society that special circumstances apply under regulation 12A of the Practice Rules.

Stepping Up course

Lawyers who intend to practise as a barrister on own account must complete the Stepping Up course (previously called Flying Start). From 1 October 2012 lawyers have two years between attending a Stepping Up course and commencing practice on their own account.

However, if you have already practised as a barrister on your own account within 10 years of commencing practise on your own account again, you are able to do so without attending this course.

Intervention Rule

Changes to the Intervention Rule came into effect on 1 July 2015. Please note that if you intend to take direction instructions you are required to complete a training webinar and apply separately for approval.

Changing your mode of practice from Barrister & Solicitor on own account, to Barrister on own account

Any practitioner who has been approved and is currently practising on their own account as a Barrister and Solicitor (partner in a law firm, director of an incorporated law firm, or sole practitioner) and wishes to change their mode of practice to a Barrister on own account, is only required to complete an Application for Change of Details form. There is no need to make a formal application under s30 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006.

Fields of law

Applicants must state the fields of law in which they wish to practise, and supply supporting information on their ability to do so, such as  references covering their practical experience, a business plan, their academic record showing passes in related subjects, or successful completion of a relevant course (such as the duty solicitor course).

Note 1: Special rules for Australian lawyers are set out in R15 of the Practice Rules.

Note 2: There is also a requirement, under s31(3), that where more than 10 years have elapsed since a lawyer last practised as a barrister on own account, he or she is not entitled to do so again until he or she has received adequate instruction to the satisfaction of the Council in the duties of a barrister. In the interim, applications in this category will be dealt with case by case.

Can experience working as an in-house lawyer be taken into account?

Each case will be considered on an individual basis. You will need to provide a copy of your job description and a letter from your supervisor(s) confirming the length of your employment and the nature of the legal work undertaken. Holding a practising certificate as a barrister and solicitor does not necessarily equate to having the required legal experience.

For further information contact Registry. An application form can be downloaded.

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