New Zealand lawyer numbers continue to grow

The number of New Zealand lawyers continues to grow, with more than 14,000 lawyers now holding practising certificates issued by the New Zealand Law Society.

The Law Society has released its annual Snapshot of the Profession, providing information on lawyers at  February 1, 2019.

It shows that New Zealand has one lawyer for every 365 citizens, and there has been a 24 percent increase in lawyers since 2011 compared to a 12 percent increase in New Zealand’s population. In 1999 New Zealand had one lawyer for every 470 citizens.

The Law Society says in a statement that one marked trend has been the continuing change in the gender composition of lawyers.

“At  February 1, 2018 the number of New Zealand-based women lawyers was one ahead of the number of men practising. A year later, there were 393 more women,” it says.

“However, women made up just 30.9 percent of partners and directors in multi-lawyer firms in 2018. This had risen to 32.7 percent in 2019, but was still far from equal. Perhaps encouragingly, the six percent rise in total women lawyers over the year lagged behind the 16 percent rise in women partners and directors.”

A high proportion – 44 percent – of New Zealand-based lawyers are located in Auckland, with another 18 percent in Wellington and  nine percent in Christchurch.

The Law Society says the average age of all lawyers is 42 years and 4 months, with 78 percent stating they are of New Zealand European ethnicity, six percent Māori ethnicity, six percent Other European and three percent Chinese.

The biggest proportion of lawyers – 58 percent – work in law firms with more than one lawyer, with another 23.5 percent working as in-house lawyers, 11.6 percent as barristers and 5.8 percent working as sole practitioners.

The Snapshot of the Profession 2019 is available at

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