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Legal Executive

Āpiha Mahi Ture

Alternative titles for this job

Legal executives help lawyers prepare and file legal documents, research and prepare cases, give legal advice and help with house sales.


Legal executives with up to two years' experience usually earn

$42K-$55K per year

Legal executives with more than two years' experience usually earn

$55K-$80K per year

Source: Hays, 'Hays Salary Guide', 2017.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting work as a legal executive are average due to steady demand for their services.


Pay for legal executives varies depending on experience and location.

  • Legal executives with up to two years' experience usually earn between $42,000 and $55,000 a year.
  • With more than two years' experience legal executives can earn from $55,000 to $60,000.
  • Legal executives based in Christchurch can earn up to $80,000.

Source: Hays, 'Hays Salary Guide', 2017.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Legal executives may do some or all of the following:

  • help lawyers with research and legal documents
  • act for clients buying, selling and developing property
  • administer estates and trusts and prepare wills
  • help with the legal aspects of running a business
  • help clients with debt collection
  • prepare, analyse and interpret legal documents
  • prepare and file court documents
  • help prepare court cases.

Skills and knowledge

Legal executives need to have:

  • knowledge of legislation and regulations
  • understanding of legal terms and methods
  • knowledge of how to prepare legal documents
  • legal research skills.

Working conditions

Legal executives:

  • usually work regular business hours
  • work in offices
  • may travel to visit clients or companies and also to attend conferences and law seminars.

What's the job really like?

Neil Ockwell

Neil Ockwell

Legal Assistant

"Being a legal executive is a very satisfying job because of the way that you build up a breadth of knowledge in your particular area of law. A strong career path is developing in the occupation, and the training is likely to be extended in the future to reflect this."

Being diligent and systematic key to the job

Neil Ockwell worked at the Public Trust for several years before moving to a law office to work as a legal executive. "I was offered a position in this firm to administer estates, wills and trusts, and to help them set up a new system for looking after these things. Because there are often no time limits on estates and trusts, dealing with them can be a long-term undertaking, so you need a system in place that can keep track of things over several decades if necessary."

A job that covers many areas of law

"Legal executives do a wide variety of tasks covering a pretty wide area of law, from preparing family law documents, to conveyancing, to the areas that I work in – estates, wills and trusts. At present we're not able to appear at legal tribunals and must have our work overseen by a solicitor."

Entry requirements

To become a legal executive you need a New Zealand Diploma in Legal Executive Studies (Level 6).

It is recommended that you work in a law firm while you are studying for the diploma.

Most legal executives register with the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives.

Secondary education

NCEA Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include history and classical studies, information management and te reo Māori.

Additional requirements for specialist roles:


To become a conveyancer you must complete the Diploma in Conveyancing (Level 6) online from Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology.

Personal requirements

Legal executives need to be:

  • accurate
  • reliable and able to keep information confidential
  • well organised
  • able to work well under pressure
  • friendly, patient and helpful.

You have to be able to relate to people and speak to them in a way that they'll understand.

Photo: Rebecca Parker

Rebecca Parker

Legal Executive

Useful experience

Useful experience for legal executives includes:

  • work as a legal secretary, law clerk or other work in a law office
  • working for the courts
  • customer service experience
  • research work.


Most legal executives register with the New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives.

Find out more about training

New Zealand Institute of Legal Executives
(09) 250 1630 - -
New Zealand Law Society
(04) 472 7837 - -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Demand for legal executives is expected to remain steady because:

  • the strong property market creates regular legal work
  • our ageing population creates property sales, power of attorney and will administration work.

Demand for legal executives is high in Christchurch as the building boom has increased demand for insurance, commercial and property legal work.

According to the Census, 2,031 legal executives worked in New Zealand in 2019.

Artificial intelligence may affect legal executive jobs

Artificial intelligence software has been created that can find evidence for cases, prepare contracts and research legal information. These tasks are a large part of a legal executive's work. In the short term, technology may help legal executives with their work but in the long term it may replace some of the paperwork they do.

Types of employers varied

Legal executives may work for:

  • general legal firms
  • government departments and community agencies
  • boutique law firms, which specialise in a particular area of law
  • real estate agencies
  • companies.


  • Hays, 'Hays Salary Guide', 2017, (
  • Hays, 'Quarterly Report, July-September 2017', 2017, (
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • New Zealand Law Society, 'Artificial Intelligence and the Law', 20 January 2017, (
  • New Zealand Law Society, 'Strong House Sales Boost Conveyancing Market', 4 November 2016, (
  • Robert Walters, 'Robert Walters Global Salary Survey', 2017, (
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Conveyancers specialise in property transactions and settlements.


A female legal executive explains a property sales agreement to a man and a woman in an office.

Legal executives may give advice on legal documents

Last updated 8 September 2020