Providing legal aid services

Apply for approval

You can only provide legal aid services if you have approval and a valid contract with the Secretary for Justice.

To be approved, you need to apply to us showing that you have the relevant skills, experience and business systems to effectively represent your clients.

Find out more in our provider approvals policy [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Areas of law

Lawyers can be approved to provide legal aid services in the following areas of law:

  • criminal
  • 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).

Lawyers can also apply for approval as a supervised provider, a duty lawyer, a provider of the Police Detention Legal Assistance Service (PDLA), or a provider of the Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS).

Types of approval

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

Most lawyers who work on legal aid cases are approved as lead providers. Lead providers are experienced lawyers, who have demonstrated their knowledge and skill across the area/s of law they are approved in. The lead provider is responsible for all work undertaken on legal aid cases that are assigned to them.

Supervised providers are lawyers who have demonstrated they meet the criteria in the quality assurance regulations but don’t yet have the required experience or competence to be approved as a lead provider. Approval as a supervised provider is subject to the requirement that the supervised provider is supervised by, and responsible to, an approved lead provider.

Find out more about applying for approval as a lead or supervised provider

In certain specific circumstances, lawyers may need to seek approval to provide legal aid services on a limited or ‘one-off’ basis.

Find out more about limited approvals

Contracts to provide legal aid services

After a lawyer is approved to provide legal aid services, a contract which sets out the following is needed:

  • the types of legal aid services that can be provided
  • the standards of service and conduct required of legal aid lawyers
  • agreements relating to administrative processes such as invoicing and payment, and reassignment of cases
  • agreements relating to quality audits of, and complaints about, legal aid lawyers
  • remedies for breaches of contract
  • processes for cancelling or amending the contract, and for handling disputes.

Read a copy of the standard contract for services [PDF, 753 KB]

Keep in touch

If you are an existing legal aid lawyer, use these forms to tell us about any changes:

  • change of details
  • increase in litigation experience level
  • criminal case assignment list preference
  • criminal case assignment availability

You can find the forms on the legal aid forms page

The Legal Aid Provider Services team can help you with any queries you have about your approvals as a legal aid lawyer.


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