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Guidance for English Barristers/Solicitors Interested in Emigrating to New Zealand

The "overseas lawyers" section of the home page on the New Zealand Law Society's website provides an excellent outline of the New Zealand profession, and of what is expected of foreign lawyers who are seeking to be admitted as barristers and/or solicitors in that jurisdiction:

Practising Home Jurisdiction Law in NZ, To Practise as a NZ lawyer, Legal Practice in NZ, New Zealand Council of Legal Education, Employment, Immigration, Patent Attorneys, Law Schools, Contacts

The following is a summary of the position. There are different requirements for those who have been in practice as a barrister or a solicitor in England and Wales and for those who have academic legal qualifications but who have not been admitted to practice. Those in the latter category should contact the Secretary of the Council for Legal Education at the address below. As to the former, the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS) generally assesses a foreign applicant's suitability to practise on the basis of (a) academic qualifications (especially the applicant's knowledge of compulsory subjects for New Zealand law students, namely Legal System, Criminal Law, the law of Torts, the law of Contracts, Property Law and Public Law, and the content of a 13 week Professional Legal Studies Course every New Zealand law student must sit prior to admission), (b) the nature and extent of professional training, (c) the nature and extent of professional experience and (d) a consideration of whether the education, training and experience of the candidate is similar to that of New Zealand educated candidates for admission to the profession.

An applicant must provide:

1 Documentary evidence of all tertiary educational standing and attainment, including academic records showing all courses and grades/marks
2 Documentary evidence of admission to practise as a barrister/solicitor in the first country of admission
3 Curriculum vitae showing dates, places and nature of experience, including English language proficiency

A copy of the law school handbook or similar publication during the period of study showing the structure of the degree and length of each course. If no handbook is available a copy of the title page showing the degree structure and course prescription should be sent directly to the NZLS under cover of a letter from the Dean of the Law Faculty stating that these or similar were in force throughout the study period ot the applicant


The basis of any exemption claimed from the requirement to demonstrate English language proficiency

6 A statuory declaration or affidavit certifying the identity and the accuracy and completeness of the above information. (The specific form is to be found on the NZLS website )
7 Two bank drafts - one made out to the NZLS in the amount of NZ$100 and the other made out to the New Zealand Council for Continuing Legal Education in the amount of NZ$750. If the application is made in New Zealand 12.5% must be added to both for GST (Goods and Services Tax [the New Zealand equivalent of VAT]).

An overseas applicant may be required to complete all or some of the subjects for a New Zealand LLB, and or the Professional Legal Studies Course or to show proficiency in the English language.

An applicant should expect that the application could take 2 - 3 months or longer to deal with.

Applications for admission as a barrister and/or solicitor of the High Court New Zealand should be sent to:

Executive Director (Attn Secretary, Admission and Credentials Committee)
New Zealand Law Society
P O Box 5041
Wellington, New Zealand
Tel: 00 64 4 472 787
Fax: 00 64 4 915 1284

Those without any background in practice should write to:

The Secretary of the Council for Legal Education
P O Box 5041
Wellington, New Zealand
Tel: 00 64 4 471 1161
Fax:00 64 4 471 1951

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