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 Salary
    $71,387

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Initial Induction Training (IIT) – Jan/Mar

(8 weeks) Location: Waiouru Military Camp

All direct entry NZ Army Officer Cadets and selected individuals are required to complete IIT. This full-time course will introduce potential officers to the standards and discipline required to be an effective member of the New Zealand Army. It is designed to train basic individual military skills which includes:

  • Self-leadership
  • Physical Training
  • Field-craft
  • Military Unarmed Combat
  • Weapon handling
  • Navigation
  • Drill
  • Battle-craft
  • Radio telephone procedure

Individuals wishing to conduct IIT need to be motivated, adaptable, resilient, physically fit and have a desire to be an effective leader within the New Zealand Defence Force.

Specialist Officer Induction Course (SOIC) – May/Jun

(6 weeks) Location: Waiouru Military Camp

This course is designed for personnel who are employed by the New Zealand Army for their specialist skills. Specialist Officers are required to complete this course in their first year of employment. Those enlisting into the Territorial Force will have the option of completing this course in two modules (i.e. Module One = 3 weeks and Module Two = 3 weeks), in consecutive years. Students will learn how to utilise and integrate their specialist skills within the context of the New Zealand Army. This course provides an introduction to the military skills required of Specialist Officers which includes:

  • Basic field-craft
  • Weapon handling
  • NZ Army Ethos and Values
  • Leadership
  • NZ Army tactics

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

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.

$39,781

Recruit

$71,837

starting salary

$147,309

Higher rank

Military Factor

All full time members of the NZ Defence Force receive an added portion to their salary known as Military Factor. This additional compensation recognises the unique nature of military service and the commitment you make to serve your country. This can include short notice postings around the country and overseas. You will be directed at times to be continuously alert, undertake arduous and hazardous duties, and be exposed to adverse working environments exclusive to military life. This also includes the exercise of military skills not recognised by market comparisons. The part you play in our Defence Force and your commitment to our country will be financially rewarded.

Free medical and dental
5 weeks annual leave
Access to additional compensation and housing allowances
Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels
Defence discounts at selected stores and services

Entry requirements

Basics
Education
Fitness and Medical
Citizenship
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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