Application guidelines & criteria for providing legal aid services

This section contains information and forms in relation to applying to provide legal aid services:

Application guidelines

Before you apply, take time to read the application guidelines. These will help you to determine which forms you need to complete, and which documents you need to provide.

The application process is not intended to be difficult or time-consuming: you need only provide enough information to satisfy the relevant legal requirements for approval. The application process has been designed to help you identify whether or not you meet the criteria for approval.

Download the application guidelines [PDF, 484 KB]

Download the guidelines on client care information requirements [PDF, 80 KB]

Approval criteria

Approval requirements are set out in the:

These require that lawyers:

  • submit a valid legal aid provider certificate of standing(external link) issued by the New Zealand Law Society
  • provide information to demonstrate that they are a fit and proper person to provide legal aid services
  • demonstrate that they meet the experience and competence requirements relevant to the area/s of law (identified in the Schedule to the Regulations)
  • submit at least two references
  • have adequate service delivery systems, including scheduling and client care arrangements, complaints management and evidence of office management practices
  • have adequate supervision arrangements (where appropriate).

Decisions about approval

After a lawyer applies for approval, we consider the application to determine whether you meet all the criteria set out in the Act and the Regulations. Your application may be referred to a selection committee which will assess it and make a recommendation to the Secretary for Justice, who then makes the final decision.

The approval will be for a defined duration – usually for a period between two and five years depending on the type of approval and your experience.

Find out more about selection committees

Re-approval for existing legal aid lawyers

Existing legal aid lawyers can apply to extend the duration of their approval. To be re-approved, you must continue to meet the criteria for approval set out in the Act and the Regulations.

The process focuses on your performance since the date of your most recent approval and is usually a more streamlined process from your first approval.

We will contact all lawyers who have approvals that are due to expire and tell them how to apply.

Apply for a review of the Secretary’s decisions

If your application for approval is declined, or conditions are imposed, you can apply for a review to the Review Authority.

Find out about the Review Authority

Application forms

You can complete your application form online or print and complete it by hand.

Application forms to provide legal aid services

More information

Find detailed information about the approvals process in Part 1 of the legal aid quality assurance manual

If you would like to discuss making an application for approval, please contact the Legal Aid Provider Services team.


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