Job Prospects... At a glance
With a very large number of law students graduating each year, and a limited number of entry-level lawyer positions, it is difficult for a new graduate to get work as a lawyer. Many recent graduates are getting jobs in other industries instead. Although average income is very high for lawyers, it is skewed by a few high earners, and is not representative of the income new graduates are likely to get.
Work as a lawyer may include:
Lawyers may work in courts, tribunals, for law practices, or for government agencies or other organisations or businesses.
According to the latest information from the New Zealand and Australian online job ads, some of the top skills employers look for include:
Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool
To work as a barrister and solicitor, you must:
|Bachelor of Laws||Professional Legal Studies Course|
|$26,400 over four years||$6,100 over a half year|
Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to feesfree.govt.nz. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation.
Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.
The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.
A Bachelor of Laws degree can be studied at the University of Auckland, Auckland University of Technology, University of Waikato, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Canterbury, and University of Otago.
The Professional Legal Studies Course is run in a number of centres by the Institute of Professional Legal Studies or the College of Law New Zealand. It is seen as the stepping stone between tertiary study and professional practice.
To work as a barrister or solicitor, you must hold a current practising certificate from the Law Society. Information on how to obtain this is on their website.
The Law Society, Practising Certificate: https://www.lawsociety.org.nz/for-lawyers/legal-practice/practising-certificates
The number of students completing a Bachelor of Laws has been steady at around 1300 for several years.
Completed qualifications chart
Source: Ministry of Education
In 2016, the average income for legal professionals was $105,600– but this is skewed by very high incomes at the top of the industry.
|Estimated Average Income|
Source: MBIE estimates based on Statistics NZ Census and Labour Cost Index
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the broader category “Legal Professionals”.
Employment of lawyers grew from 2006 to 2013, and is projected to grow at even higher rates out to 2026. This should mean that there will be higher demand than previously for new law graduates.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
|Overseas||In further study||Receiving a benefit||In employment||Median Salary|
Source: Tertiary Education Commission
*Three years after completion of Bachelor Degree - Law.
Three years after completing a bachelor’s degree in law, 75% of graduates in New Zealand were in employment. Some were overseas or in further study, and a very small number were receiving a benefit. The median salary was estimated to be $57,000 three years after graduation.
The number of online job vacancies for judicial and other legal professionals has grown more slowly than average since 2012. Note that this category does not include solicitors.
Jobs advertised chart
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Legal vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs, Seek and NZ Law Society websites.
People entering a law firm may start as a staff solicitor before progressing to associate and partnership roles. A staff solicitor may work in conveyancing, write legal opinions, or appear in court.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level lawyers.
More information about a career as a lawyer is available on the websites of Careers New Zealand and the law society.
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of lawyers has been coded to the following ANZSCO codes for the purpose of this report:
271 – Legal Professionals
5991 – Conveyancers and Legal Executives