How to qualify as a Lawyer
To qualify as a Lawyer in New Zealand, there is a four step process you need to complete.
Get your Law Degree!
To become a lawyer you will first need your Law degree: a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) or Bachelor of Laws with Honours (LLB (Hons)). An LLB can be obtained from a university: Auckland, AUT, Waikato, Victoria Canterbury or Otago. The LLB on its own usually takes four years of full-time study.
This is the easy part.
Professional Legal Studies
To qualify as a lawyer you need to do the practical course, commonly known as ‘profs’. You can do it through either the College of Law or Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS). Completion of this course allows you to be admitted to the roll of Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand.
Profs provides practical skills which will help you transition into the workplace. The course may be completed during the first few months of work and some firms may even cover the cost of the course for their employees. The profs course is very intense and you still qualify as a student for Studylink purposes while you are completing it.
Certificate of Completion & Character
The next step is to acquire a certificate of completion from the New Zealand Council of Legal Education. This recognises the completion of your law degree and Profs.
A certificate of character is also required from the New Zealand Law Society. This certifies that you are a “fit and proper person” to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor. The correct documentation application form should be sent to the Council as soon as possible because they can take up to 4 months to get approved. Bear in mind that there is a fee for applying for this certificate. You will need three references for the certificate. One must be your employer and the others cannot be your family or your lecturers/tutors.
Admission to the Bar
The final step is to be admitted to the Roll or Barristers and Solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand. This is a ceremony at your local High Court, where you will need to wear traditional court attire or a gown over neat clothing. This may be your first chance to wear the wig!
During the ceremony, you need someone who is already a lawyer to move your admission. This is a lovely opportunity to do with a friend, family member or colleague who has a practising certificate, but if you don’t know anyone who will move you the Law Society will provide someone. At the ceremony, you will sign your name onto the Roll!
You will then be issued a practising certificate by the New Zealand Law Society and can legally call yourself a lawyer under the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. Congratulations!