New Zealand Law Society - What is the Law Society?

What is the Law Society?

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa was founded 1869 following the passing of the New Zealand Law Society Act.

Since then the organisation has been through several changes. The most recent was in 2008 when it became the national regulator of the legal profession. This change saw all but one of the 14 district law societies disband and join together into a national body.

Primarily based in Wellington the Law Society also has staff working in 13 branches across the country. Local branches offer support, training, education and events for lawyers in their areas.

We are governed by a president, an executive board and a council.

Regulatory services

As a regulator we have dedicated duties and powers focused on monitoring, regulating and enforcing the rules that apply to lawyers and the way they practise law. We regulate around 15,000 lawyers to ensure New Zealanders can have confidence in the provision of legal services.

Our core regulatory services are:

  • Maintaining a public register of lawyers
  • Issuing practising certificates and certificates of standing
  • Managing the Lawyers Complaints Service
  • Managing a Financial Assurance Scheme, including trust account reviews
  • Managing the Lawyers’ Fidelity Fund
  • Law reform and advocacy activities including submissions on legislation
  • Making practice rules: processes for changes in modes of practice
  • Providing libraries for lawyers

We are proud of our reputation for making impartial, considered and valued contributions to law reform, the administration of justice and the rule of law. Our work in the justice area is wide ranging and sees us work with the judiciary, the courts, government and the profession to support the administration of justice.

Membership Services

Lawyers can choose to be a member of the Law Society and almost all do so. Membership provides access to a range of benefits including professional development, networking events and wellbeing support and, where it is applicable, membership of one of the Law Society’s three Sections – in-house counsel, property law and family law.

The Sections offer support, law reform and advocacy, training and information. Almost 40% of the profession are members of a section.

Learn more about the Law Society's membership subscription and how to register for the 2024-25 membership year.

Practising Well

Over the past few years, our support services have been strengthened to provide more wellbeing and mental health support as this has been paramount to the profession and our members. Our Practising Well support service is a starting point for any lawyer who is concerned about their own welfare or that of a colleague, or who wants to enhance their own health and wellbeing. Available services include Law Care; the Legal Community Counselling Service, a national Friends panel and locum list, information on practice matters and a national mentoring programme for all lawyers.