Established in 1896, the New Zealand Law Society has been part of New Zealand’s justice system for more than 150 years. Its 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, have completed a Profs Course, and been admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, if you want to provide legal services in New Zealand you must obtain a practising certificate from the New Zealand Law Society Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa.
Alongside the practising certificate, every practising lawyer must adhere to the Rules of Conduct and Client Care for Lawyers (the Rules). The Rules set minimum standards for legal practise in New Zealand. The Law Society regulates around 16,000 lawyers to ensure New Zealanders can have confidence in the provision of legal services, and this is 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 provides a wide and varied range of services. It includes a national law library service, the provision of CPD 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 social events and networking, casual learning sessions, formal dinners, 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 quarterly magazine LawTalk, which is available digitally.
Opportunities and resources for students
Many of the Law Society branches have new or young lawyer groups which offer a full programme of activities. There is also a National New Lawyers Group that represents those in the profession with fewer than seven years post qualified experience. See our ‘Starting as a lawyer’ page for more information on joining 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. This includes supporting gender equality within the legal profession. There is also guidance available on the 2021 updates to the Rules governing the behaviour of lawyers which are aimed at tackling bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
Further information on our publications and other student resources can be found on the Law Society’s website.