Consultation on future regulation of lawyers and legal services

Mon 04 Jul 2022

An independent panel is seeking feedback about the regulation of lawyers and legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Independent Review Panel examining how lawyers and legal services should be regulated in Aotearoa New Zealand is asking for feedback on a discussion document.

The closing date to give feedback is 12 August 2022. The Independent Review Panel is also holding meetings in July 2022.

The New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa commissioned an Independent Review of the statutory framework for legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Law Society appointed an Independent Review Panel to carry out the review. Professor Ron Paterson is the Chair and Jane Meares and Professor Jacinta Ruru are Members of the Independent Review Panel.

The panel is reviewing the regulation and representation of legal services in Aotearoa New Zealand, including the structure and functions of the Law Society. According to the Independent Review Panel website, the review has been launched based on two drivers:

"The ability of the Law Society to be more effective with its complaints system and to deal with a range of unacceptable behaviour, including complaints of sexual harassment and bullying.

To ensure the statutory framework is still fit-for-purpose given the changes that have occurred in the legal profession and in regulatory good practice since the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (the Act) came into force."

For more information about the scope of the review see the Panel's Terms of Reference.

The Panel is now asking for feedback from lawyers and the general public on a discussion document. The discussion document looks at:

  • "Is it appropriate for the New Zealand Law Society | Te Kāhui Ture o Aotearoa to exercise both regulatory and representative functions or should there be a new independent regulator?
  • How should Te Tiriti o Waitangi be incorporated into the Act?
  • Which providers of legal services should be regulated?
  • Should the Act be amended to allow non-lawyers to have an ownership interest in law firms and to permit multidisciplinary practices?
  • Should law practices be directly regulated in addition to individual lawyers?
  • How can a positive and diverse culture within the legal profession be promoted?
  • Are CPD requirements fit for purpose?
  • Is a new model needed for handling complaints about lawyers?"

You can give feedback through an online survey or by emailing your submission to

The Panel is also hosting 3 webinars in July so you can hear directly from the Panel and ask questions. You need to register for the webinars.

Law Society President Jacque Lethbridge said:

“Feedback the Panel receives will help guide decision-making on the future of the legal profession and the Law Society itself to ensure that its structures, processes, powers and obligations are those that best serve Aotearoa New Zealand."

And she also said:

"It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a meaningful and substantive change to the legal profession in Aotearoa New Zealand which is fundamental to upholding the rule of law in our society.” 

To say up to date on the work of the Independent Review Panel, subscribe to their updates by emailing

Update: The Law Society released the Independent Review Panel’s report in March 2023. The report recommends legislative and structural change, the establishment of a new independent regulator and an overhaul of the system for handling complaints about lawyers. The Law Society Board is currently reviewing the report and will be making recommendations to the Minister for Justice by the end of July.

Related news

The International Bar Association (IBA) has released two reports looking at efforts to address bullying, sexual harassment and discrimination in the legal profession: Beyond Us Too? Regulatory Responses to Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession and A Global Directory of Anti-Discrimination Rules Within the Legal Profession: Main Findings.

Related media

The Independent Panel review: a watershed moment for the legal profession, Op ed from Baden Vertongen - Tumuaki Tane of Te Hunga Rōia Māori o Aotearoa, Lawtalk Issue 954, Law Society, 07.06.2023

Image: RODNAE Productions on Pexels

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