Become a legal aid lawyer

Legal aid approvals

Application Guidelines and criteria for providing legal aid services or specified legal services

You can only provide legal aid services if you’ve been approved and entered into an agreement with the Secretary to do so.

To be approved, you must provide sufficient information to satisfy the criteria set out in the Legal Services Act 2011 and the Legal Services (Quality Assurance) Regulations 2011.

Before you apply, please take the time to read the Applying to be a legal aid provider – Step-by-step guide. This guide will help you to determine what sections of the form you need to complete and what supporting documents you need to provide. It also provides information about the application process and what to expect.

Prescribed Manner

Applications must be submitted in the prescribed manner.  All applications need to be completed digitally using the below PDF forms and submitted electronically by email to along with any supporting information.  Applications that are not submitted in the prescribed manner, which includes hand written applications and/ or scanned applications, will not be accepted.

Application to provide legal aid services [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Additional case example coversheet [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Additional reference declaration [PDF, 1.2 MB]

Applying to be a legal aid provider - Step-by-step guide [PDF, 529 KB]

Firm undertaking [PDF, 921 KB]

Examples of client care letters [PDF, 21 KB]

Contract for services [PDF, 599 KB]

Application for internal review [PDF, 2.1 MB]

Areas of law

Applicants can apply to provide legal aid services in the following areas of law:

  • Criminal
  • Parole Board
  • Family
  • Civil
  • Mental Health
  • Refugee and Protected Persons
  • Māori Land Court and Māori Appellate Court
  • Waitangi Tribunal
  • Court of Appeal and Supreme Court
  • Employment Advocate (non-lawyers who are members of the Employment Law Institute of New Zealand can apply).

Applicants can also apply for approval to provide the following specialised legal services:

  • Duty Lawyer
  • Police Detention Legal Assistance Service (PDLA)
  • Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS).

Types of approval

There are different types of approval depending on your level of legal experience and the circumstances of your application.

Lead provider approval is granted to applicants who can demonstrate they have the knowledge, experience and skill across the area(s) of law they’re approved in. The lead provider is responsible for all work undertaken on the legal aid cases that are assigned to them.

Supervised provider approval is granted to applicants who haven’t yet demonstrated they have the required knowledge, experience and skill to be approved as a lead provider. The Secretary will grant approval provided the applicant is under the supervision of an approved lead provider.

Limited approval is granted to applicants who wish to seek approval for a proceeding or type of proceeding. This approval is granted to provide continuity of services, because of their specialist skills and experience or a shortage of existing providers with the necessary skills and experience.

Referral to the Selection Committee

All applications for lead provider approval will be referred to the relevant Selection Committee for their consideration and recommendation to the Secretary.

Additional information on how the Selection Committee assesses applications can also be found here:

Selection Committee guidance [PDF, 293 KB]

Please see the list of Selection Committee meetings for the 2020 calendar year below:

Legal jurisdictionDates (TBC)
Criminal provider approval level 1-4      
Police Detention Legal Assistance
Duty Lawyer
Parole Board
Court of Appeal and Supreme Court
Family Legal Advice Service
Mental Health
Employment Advocate
Refugees and Immigration
Waitangi Tribunal    
Māori Land Court
Māori Appellate Court