Become a legal aid lawyer

Application Guidelines and criteria for providing legal aid services or specified legal services

You can only provide legal aid services if you’ve been approved and entered into an agreement with the Secretary to do so.

To be approved, you must provide sufficient information to satisfy the criteria set out in the Legal Services Act 2011 and the Legal Services (Quality Assurance) Regulations 2011.

Before you apply, please take the time to read the Applying to be a legal aid provider – Step-by-step guide. This guide will help you to determine what sections of the form you need to complete and what supporting documents you need to provide. It also provides information about the application process and what to expect.

Prescribed Manner

All applications need to be completed digitally using the below PDF forms and submitted electronically by email to along with any supporting information. 

To read and complete PDF files from our website, you need Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can download this software free of charge from the Adobe website.

Get Acrobat Reader for Windows, MacOS, Linux(external link)  or Xpdf for Linux(external link)

Before you begin filling in the PDF form, open it and save it to your computer.  Once you have completed the form save it again before sending it to us.

Applications must be submitted in the prescribed manner.  Hand written and/ or scanned applications, will not be accepted. 

We recommend you keep your application to 150 pages or less.  

Application to provide legal aid services [PDF, 1.4 MB]

Additional case example coversheet [PDF, 1.3 MB]

Additional reference declaration [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Applying to be a legal aid provider - Step-by-step guide [PDF, 447 KB]

Firm undertaking [PDF, 954 KB]

Examples of client care letters [PDF, 21 KB]

Contract for services [PDF, 339 KB]

Application for internal review [PDF, 2.1 MB]

Areas of law

Applicants can apply to provide legal aid services in the following areas of law:

  • Criminal
  • Parole Board
  • Family
  • Civil
  • Mental Health
  • Refugee and Protected Persons
  • Māori Land Court and Māori Appellate Court
  • Waitangi Tribunal
  • Court of Appeal and Supreme Court
  • Employment Advocate (non-lawyers who are members of the Employment Law Institute of New Zealand can apply).

Applicants can also apply for approval to provide the following specialised legal services:

  • Duty Lawyer
  • Police Detention Legal Assistance Service (PDLA)
  • Family Legal Advice Service (FLAS).

Types of approval

There are different types of approval depending on your level of legal experience and the circumstances of your application.

Lead provider approval is granted to applicants who can demonstrate they have the knowledge, experience and skill across the area(s) of law they’re approved in. The lead provider is responsible for all work undertaken on the legal aid cases that are assigned to them.

Supervised provider approval is granted to applicants who haven’t yet demonstrated they have the required knowledge, experience and skill to be approved as a lead provider. The Secretary will grant approval provided the applicant is under the supervision of an approved lead provider.

Limited approval is granted to applicants who wish to seek approval for a proceeding or type of proceeding. This approval is granted to provide continuity of services, because of their specialist skills and experience or a shortage of existing providers with the necessary skills and experience.

Referral to the Selection Committee

All applications for lead provider approval will be referred to the relevant Selection Committee for their consideration and recommendation to the Secretary.

Please note that applications for approval must be received at least five working days before the Selection Committee Meeting.

Additional information on how the Selection Committee assesses applications can also be found here:

Selection Committee guidance [PDF, 293 KB]

Please see the list of Selection Committee meetings for the 2022 calendar year below:

Legal jurisdictionDates

Criminal provider approval level 1-4
Police Detention Legal Assistance
Duty Lawyer
Parole Board
Court of Appeal and Supreme Court

15 September 2022
20 September 2022
27 September 2022

4 October 2022
11 October 2022
18 October 2022
25 October 2022


Family Legal Advice Service
Mental Health
Employment Advocate
Refugees and Protected Persons

22 September 2022
29 September 2022

6 October 2022
13 October 2022
20 October 2022
27 October 2022


Waitangi Tribunal
Māori Land Court
Māori Appellate Court

21 October 2022

(This page is updated monthly)