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About the Legal Industry in New Zealand

Over 14,000 lawyers now hold practising certificates issued by the New Zealand Law Society. They range in age from 22 to over 90. While there is obviously a lot more to the legal industry than just the numbers, the information collected by the Law Society its regulatory role can provide some useful details on the makeup of the legal profession.

Industry Growth and Trends

Lawyer numbers continue to grow. Since 2011, there has been an increase of 24% in all practising certificate holders, and 20% in New Zealand based lawyers. At the same time the population of New Zealand has increased by around 12%.

 

At the moment there is one lawyer in New Zealand for every 365 citizens. Back in 1999 it was one lawyer for every 470 citizens.

 

The continued change in the gender composition of lawyers is also an area of interest. As of 1 February 2018 the number of New Zealand-based women lawyers was one ahead of the number of men practising. A year later, there were 393 more women. However, women made up just 30.9% of partners and directors in multi-lawyer firms in 2018. This had risen to 32.7% in 2019, but was still far from equal. Perhaps encouragingly, the 6% rise in total women lawyers over the year lagged behind the 16% rise in women partners and directors.

 

The number of lawyers involved in in-house practice continues to increase. In the five years since 2014, there has been a 30% increase in New Zealand based in-house lawyers, compared with an increase of 15% in all New Zealand-based lawyers. In-house lawyers now make up 23.5% of the New Zealand legal profession.

Locations with the Highest Proportion of Lawyers

You can find a lawyer in over 150 centres around New Zealand. however the number of people per lawyer varies dramatically. Wellington has the most lawyers per head of population, with one lawyer for every 84 inhabitants. However, Auckland remains the lawyer powerbase.

 

The number of New Zealand-based lawyers has grown by 2,286 lawyers since 1 February 2011, with Auckland based lawyers growing by over half that – 1,337.

Major Areas of Practice

  • Company/Commercial Law

  • Property Law

  • Trust/Estates

  • Civil Litigation

  • Family Law

  • Employment Law

  • Criminal Law

  • Administrative/Public

  • Banking/Finance

  • Intellectual Property

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