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.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
  • Location
    Waiouru, Linton, Trentham, Burnham
  • Starting Salary

About the role

Legal Advisors (LEGADs) in the New Zealand Army work in what could be best described as a ‘Specialised General Practice’.

Job on base

You will serve initially at Headquarters, New Zealand Defence Force, Wellington, as part of the Directorate of Legal Services performing general in-house counsel duties. The Directorate is required to provide advice to the Chief of Defence Force, single Service Chiefs of Staff and other military and civil members of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Your advice may be sought of a wide range of subjects:

  • Proposed legislative changes
  • The assessment of legislation that may impact on the activities or resources of the New Zealand Defence Force
  • The Armed Forces’ disciplinary system
  • Administration of Armed Forces law
  • Commercial and contractual matters
  • Employment matters
  • International agreements and arrangements affecting the Armed Forces
  • Administrative acts or omissions
  • Armed Forces operations

There is an emphasis in the duties of an LEGAD on Armed Forces and criminal law. In these areas, advice may be required on:

  • The constitution, command and organisation of the three Services
  • Framing charges and other pre-trial aspects
  • Prosecution before the Court Martial of New Zealand
  • Armed Forces legal aid and post-trial matters including appeals
  • Terms of reference of courts of inquiry, their legality and whether the evidence recorded discloses the commission of offences
  • International law, principally the laws of armed conflict, law of the sea, air law and status of forces, and rules of engagement

LEGADs may also be called upon to provide legal advice in respect of complaints by members of the Armed Forces and the executive and administrative acts affecting the conditions of service of members of the Armed Forces.

Officers of the Directorate of Legal Services may be required to prosecute from time to time at the Court Martial of New Zealand, appear on behalf of the Chief of Defence Force in the Court Martial Appeal Court, formulate and implement policy on legal matters and assist with training the Armed Forces in Armed Forces law.

Job on deployment

LEGADs may deploy in a variety of roles, including as an advisor to a New Zealand commander for a specific mission, or as part of an international headquarters, such as ISAF. LEGADs are expected to be able to prepare and advise their commanders on all relevant legal matters that may arise during the deployment including, but not limited to:

  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • Discipline issues
  • Law of the Sea
  • UN mandate
  • Rules of Engagement
  • Targeting
  • Prohibited use of weapons and ammunition
  • Detainee handling

Leadership for a Legal Officer is the ability to provide legal advise to Commanders regardless of whether it’s popular or not and make sure you give the best advise you're able to give.

Career progression and training

Career Progression
Basic Training
Job Training
Ongoing Training

You will be employed initially at Headquarters, New Zealand Defence Force, Wellington, as part of the Directorate of Legal Services. At the rank of Lieutenant you will be required to attend the Junior Command Course, the Intermediate Command Course and complete distance education packages as part of the Junior Staff Officers’ (JSO) Course. Upon successful completion of the JSO course, two years satisfactory service as a Lieutenant, and command approval, you may be promoted to the rank of Captain.


Upon successful enlistment into the Army you will be posted to Waiouru Army base. Here you will do a six week specialist officer military training course to teach you the basics of being in the Army. The course is designed to assist you in your integration into the Army and although it is challenging, it’s specifically catered for specialist officers. You will be taught the basics including:

  • Navigation
  • Weapon handling
  • Leadership
  • Drill and barrack routine
  • Living in the field
  • Army Ethos and Values

As a junior LEGAD you will complete an intensive university-level course in military law. Other 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, particularly towards the LLM degree, through the various study schemes offered by the NZ Army.

You will be given the opportunity to develop your advocacy skills by appearing as junior counsel in the Court Martial and the Summary Appeal Court.

You will also participate in the NZDF litigation skills programme, which mirrors that run by the New Zealand Law Society, with instruction from specialist litigators.

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

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Army are well-rewarded, diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, your salary will rise accordingly.




starting salary


Higher rank

Benefits and allowances

There are many additional benefits to being in the Defence Force, that will make your money go further.

For example, on top of your basic salary you can expect ‘Military Factor’. This provides you with significant extra financial rewards because of the commitment you’ve made to serve your country.

Free medical and dental
Access to subsidised equipment on base
Subsidised food on base
Competitive superannuation, up to 4% with KiwiSaver
Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Entry requirements

Fitness and Medical
Period of Service
  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship and security requirements to gain SV security clearance for this trade.
  • You must be free of any criminal convictions.
  • Have some form of post-admission experience (preferably two years) within a civilian law firm.
  • Have a good understanding of criminal justice and procedure – knowledge of public law would be expected.
  • Show attention to detail, a high standard of written work, good analytical skills and the ability to present and teach on legal matters.
  • Display leadership potential.

You must have obtained an LLB with a B+ average.

It is preferable for LEGAD’s to have some form of post admission experience (preferably two years) within a civilian law firm.

A good understanding of criminal justice and procedure, and public law would be expected.

LEGAD's advise commanders on legalities of intended courses of action and management of areas of risk. So potential LEGAD's need to have the following:

  • Attention to detail.
  • High standard of written work.
  • Good analytical skills.
  • The ability to present and teach on legal matters.
  • 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.

If you are required to attend a Professional Legal Studies course, for the purpose of obtaining admission as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court, you will incur a return of service for two years upon completion.

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