The ‘One a Day’ Lawyers: One Lawyer For Every 365 People in NZ

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More lawyers than ever . . that’s the result of the Law Society’s latest stats on the New Zealand legal profession, which show over 14,000 lawyers holding practising certificates.

That amounts to one lawyer for every 365 people in the country, one of the highest per-capital lawyers-per-head in the world. As LawFuel reported eight years ago, New Zealand has one of the highest lawyers-per-head in the world.

There is a 24 per cent increase in lawyers since 2011, compared to a 12 per cent increase in the overall population.

The ‘lawyer-per-head’ figure stood at one in 470 in 1999.

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

In a press release today, the Law Society says one marked trend has been the continuing change in the gender composition of lawyers.

“At 1 February 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% of partners and directors in multi-lawyer firms in 2018. This had risen to 32.7% in 2019, but was still far from equal. Perhaps encouragingly, the 6% rise in total women lawyers over the year lagged behind the 16% rise in women partners and directors.”

A high proportion – 44% – of New Zealand-based lawyers are located in Auckland, with another 18% in Wellington and  9% in Christchurch.

The Law Society says the average age of all lawyers is 42 years and 4 months, with 78% stating they are of New Zealand European ethnicity, 6% Māori ethnicity, 6% Other European and 3% Chinese.

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

The Snapshot of the Profession 2019 is available at

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