Established in 1896, the New Zealand Law Society has been part of New Zealand’s justice system for more than 150 years. It’s core functions are to regulate legal practice in New Zealand, to uphold the rule of law by assisting and promoting law reform, to protect the consumers of legal services and to represent its members.
Once you have graduated from law school and have completed a Profs Course, if you want to provide legal services in New Zealand, you must obtain a practising certificate from the Law Society.
Alongside the practising certificate, every practising lawyer must adhere to the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers. These rules set minimum standards for legal practise in New Zealand with this regulatory role funded through the annual practising fee which all practising lawyers pay when their Practising Certificate is renewed.
A part of the regulatory branch is the Lawyers Complaints Service. This section handles all complaints made against lawyers, law firms and non-legal employees.
The Law Society also oversees the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirement which practising lawyers must complete – every lawyer must complete a minimum of 10 hours of CPD activities each year.
As a membership organisation, the Law Society provide a wide and varied range of services. It includes a national law library service, the provision of continuing professional development through the Law Society’s wholly-owned education provider NZLS CLE Ltd, and events and services delivered through the 13 Law Society branches around New Zealand. Law Society events include formal dinners, social events, casual learning sessions, committee meetings, study groups, and up-skilling sessions.
The Law Society also keeps lawyers informed on the legal profession, the delivery of legal services, and other relevant matters through a range of publications and online information. These include a weekly e-newsletter LawPoints and a monthly magazine LawTalk.
Opportunities and resources for students
Many of the Law Society branches have new or young lawyer groups which offer a full programme of activities. The New Zealand Law Society Women’s Advisory Panel is also developing a range on initiatives aimed at improving the retention and advancement of women in the legal profession.
We know that students starting law school, and those graduating and preparing to enter the legal profession in any capacity may have questions about the Law Society’s involvement in the regulation of New Zealand’s law firms. The Law Society is committed to helping and supporting legal professionals to ensure they work in healthy, safe, respectful and inclusive environments and we do this through a variety of channels.
NZLS Weekly is a e-newsletter available free to anyone interested in legal news. The Law Society also makes copies of its monthly magazine, LawTalk, available to law students through the country’s law schools. LawTalk is also available as an online magazine. Further information on our publications and other student resources can be found on the Law Society’s website.