The New Zealand Law Society was established by statute in 1869. The Act continues the Society and sets out its regulatory and representative functions and powers. The Society regulates all lawyers, but membership of the Society is voluntary.
The Society’s Constitution sets out the membership, election processes and meeting procedures for the Society’s governing bodies. The Law Society is governed by a Council and managed by a Board.
The Council comprises the President (and President-Elect where applicable), the four Vice-Presidents, one member from each branch of the Law Society, the chair or president of each of the Society’s sections, the chair or president of the New Zealand Bar Association, and a representative of the large law firm corporation. The Council meets at least once a year.
The Board acts as the executive body, managing the affairs of the Society and exercising most of the functions and powers of the Council under delegation. The Board comprises the President (and President-Elect where applicable) and the four Vice-Presidents. It appoints members to the Society’s law reform committees.
The Law Society is supported by its executive, under the leadership of the Executive Director.
The Society regulates all lawyers, but membership of the Society is voluntary.
The regulatory functions of the Law Society are set out in s65 of the LCA. They include controlling and regulating the practice of the profession of law in New Zealand, and assisting and promoting the reform of the law (for the purpose of upholding the rule of law and the administration of justice).
Among the Society’s regulatory activities are:
- issuing practising certificates
- maintaining a register of lawyers
- making practice rules
- law reform activities, including submissions on legislation
- managing the Lawyers Complaints Service
- operating a Financial Assurance scheme
- operating a Fidelity Fund.
All lawyers are regulated, and must pay the required regulatory fees and levies.
The representative functions of the Society are to represent its members and to serve their interests.
Services include continuing legal education (provided by the Law Society through its branches) and the provision of the legal executive diploma. Branches provide representative services and activities, including collegial activities.
Full membership of the Society is voluntary, and is open to any lawyer, that is anyone with a current practising certificate. The benefits of membership include access to the full range of the Society’s representative services and the opportunity to have a say in the way the profession is regulated.
Rules for the election of honorary members and for associate members exist under relevant provisions in the Society’s Constitution.