How to Become a Lawyer in New Zealand

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A law degree in New Zealand is an undergraduate degree, which means obtaining it is a much briefer process than in North America. It is still a very competitive field to enter, however, and challenging to achieve. Lawyers in New Zealand need to gain entry to the bar. This is done by taking classes and exams over several months towards the end of your university law studies or after graduation.

Things You'll Need

  • Admission to a New Zealand university
  • Good grades
  • References
  • Statement of character

Studying

  • Gain entrance to any New Zealand university by passing NCEA Level 3 with 14 credits in each of three subjects, or be over the age of 20. Anyone over the age of 20 can enter university in New Zealand, regardless of high school performance.

  • Enroll in a first-year law program. The two premier universities in New Zealand for the study of law are the University of Otago, in Dunedin, and Victoria University in Wellington. Both these programs have open-entry first-year programs, which means that anyone who has gained university admission can enroll in first-year law.

  • Pass first-year law in the upper percentile. In contrast to first-year law, places in second-year law are limited. At the University of Otago, for example, there are only 200 places available in second-year law, but first-year enrollees often number 700 or more. To be admitted into second-year law, your grades will usually need to be at least in the range of A- to B+.

  • From your second-year on, all you need to do to progress is pass your classes.

  • Once you graduate with your law degree, you need to pass the bar. To do this, take professional classes, or "profs," either online or in person. Once you have passed all the tests in profs--which involve how to interview a client and draft a legal document among other things--you need to formally apply for the bar. To do this, you need a statement of character and references from people with high standing in the community.

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