How To Become A Lawyer In New Zealand

New Zealand's legal system is based on the Common Law system and the process to become a lawyer is
similar to many other Common Law nations. The difference is that the level of recognition given to foreign-trained lawyers and undergraduate law degrees gained outside of New Zealand is higher than in other countries.

Trainee lawyers will work for a firm of solicitors initially and the process to become a qualified lawyer will be guided by the firm you work for. 

This article looks at the various stages involved in becoming a lawyer in New Zealand.

Bachelor of Laws Degree 

To become a lawyer in New Zealand students must first complete an undergraduate degree at university in Law, known as an LLB. The majority of students choose to undertake this as their first degree, however, if you already have a degree then you can often skip the first year, known as Part I. 

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Foreign-Trained Lawyers 

Some foreign-trained lawyers can practice in New Zealand under certain circumstances. For example, a foreign trained lawyer can appear in a New Zealand court if their expertise in another country's law is required or they can practice in that country's law in New Zealand. Otherwise, unless their Law degree is recognised by the New Zealand Council of Legal Education, foreign-trained lawyers have to complete parts of a New Zealand LLB course and then continue to membership of the Law Society of New Zealand. The portions of the LLB that need to be completed are decided on assessment by the New Zealand Council of Legal Education. 

Complete Professional Legal Studies Course 

There are two institutions that run the Professional Legal Studies Course in New Zealand; the Institute of Professional Legal Studies and the College of Law. This course takes 13 weeks to complete on a full-time basis and it builds on the legal knowledge gained during the LLB and gives students the additional knowledge to practice law. 

Gain Certificate from the New Zealand Council of Legal Education 

After you have completed the Professional Legal Studies Course you must then apply to the New Zealand Council of Legal Education to have your legal education certified. Along with your application, you attach your results from law school, so you will need to have your grade transcripts ready for assessment. 

Gain Certificate of Character from the Law Society 

The next step is to gain a Certificate of Character from the Law Society of New Zealand. To do this you must apply to your local Law Society with a form and disclose any criminal convictions. You will also need to include referee reports and your local Law Society will advertise your name in the local media. This means that anyone with an objection to your admission to the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand will have time to place their objections. 

Admission to Roll of Barristers & Solicitors of the High Court 

This part is largely ceremonial and usually involves a group admission to the High Court of New Zealand. It takes around 16 weeks from application for a Certificate of Character from the Law Society to admission to the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court. To become a barrister you must have significant experience practising as a solicitor already. 

Hold a Current Practising Certificate Issued by the Law Society 

The final part of becoming a lawyer in New Zealand is to apply and gain a Practising Certificate by the Law Society of New Zealand. This is a simple form and if there are no objections or additional information needed, it takes a few weeks to process and should be done within three months of being admitted to the Roll of Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court. 

Expected Salary Ranges for Lawyers in New Zealand

Here is a table to illustrated the expected range of salary for lawyers in New Zealand.

Source

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