Not many legal specialists get trained to lead teams of people in all kinds of situations, handle weapons and develop problem-solving, adventure and outdoor skills. As a Legal Officer, your career can vary greatly depending on what appointment you hold, but you could find yourself working in areas such as Military law, military and civilian employment law or human rights and privacy law.

  • Service
    Army
  • Specialisation
    Specialist
  • Location
    Varied
  • Starting Trade Training
    $86,092
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About the role

Legal Advisors (LEGADs) in the New Zealand Defence Force work in what could be best described as a ‘Specialised General Practice. As a Military Legal Advisor, your career can vary greatly depending on what appointment you hold, but the principal areas in which you may practice are:

  • Military law
  • Administrative law
  • Military and civilian employment law
  • The law of armed conflict and other international and domestic law applicable to the operations of the Armed Forces
  • Human rights and privacy law
  • Contract law
  • Resource management law

From time to time you will be required to appear for the Crown in the Court Martial of New Zealand or other courts and tribunals, such as the Summary Appeal Court of New Zealand or a coroner’s inquest. There are periodic opportunities for exchanges with military lawyers in Australia, Canada and the UK, as well as occasional overseas training opportunities in areas such as the law of armed conflict.

The majority of your career as a Legal Advisor will be spent in a tri-service environment. This means that Legal Officers often spend their careers at various defence establishments and your work colleagues can be Army, Navy, Air Force and Civilian.

Career progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

Ongoing Training

Following successful completion of the Specialist Officer Induction Course (SOIC), you will typically be promoted to Lieutenant and posted to one of the Defence Force’s legal offices for on the job training as a military lawyer. These offices are currently located in Auckland, Waiouru, Palmerston North, Wellington and Burnham. You can expect to be posted to other junior appointments in other Defence Force establishments in the early stages of your career. You will be promoted to Captain upon completion of all relevant courses and necessary time in rank. There may be opportunities for operational deployments around the world, and exchanges with other Military Forces including in the UK, Canada and Australia.

Officer Cadet School (OCS)

(12 weeks) Location: Waiouru Military Camp

Initial training begins in early January. Attendees at this training will be a mixture of Regular Force General List Officer Cadets, Regular Force Special List Officer Cadets, and Reserve Force Special List Officer Cadets.

The training will be split into three modules and attendance at Modules One, Two and Three is required for all Regular Force Officer Cadets. Reserve Force Special List Officer Cadets must attend Modules One and Three; this can be in the same year or in consecutive years.

 

Training covers:

  • NZ Army Ethos and Values
  • Self-leadership
  • Physical Training
  • Basic field-craft
  • Military Unarmed Combat
  • Weapon handling
  • Navigation
  • Battle-craft
  • Radio telephone procedure
  • Weapon handling
  • Drill
  • NZ Army tactics
  • Leadership

As a junior LEGAD specialist training is provided as appropriate on an ongoing basis, most of which is conducted in-house. Throughout your career you will have the opportunity to attend specific military law courses and exercises within New Zealand and overseas. You will be encouraged to pursue relevant postgraduate study opportunities.

You can be given the opportunity to develop your advocacy skills by appearing as junior counsel in the Court Martial and the Summary Appeal Court, and may have the opportunity to participate in specialist litigation training.

All LEGAD's are encouraged to undertake additional NZDF courses to enhance their general Service and military skills and therefore their deployability.

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Salary and benefits

Specific remuneration arrangements can, in certain cases, be tailored in respect of practitioners with experience in relevant legal specialtiesAs you become more experienced in the military and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, your salary will rise accordingly.

$86,092

Starting Trade Training

$169,941

Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Military Factor

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accommodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements

Basics

Education

Fitness and Medical

Citizenship

Period of Service

  • Must have completed a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). See education tab for further details;
  • Meet the citizenship and security requirements to gain SV security clearance for the trade;
  • Be free of any criminal convictions for the previous two years or any that preclude you from holding a legal practising certificate;
  • Be of good character – assessed by a study of testimonials and a police record check; 
  • Pass an Officer Selection Board.

Minimum: You must have completed a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Applicants in their final year of study are encouraged to apply.

Desirable: Completion of Professional Legal Studies and having been admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, as well as some form of post-admission experience, will make you a competitive applicant.

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required SV security clearance for this trade.

Find out if you’re eligible here. 

There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.

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